Freaks and geeks — the culture surrounding E3 nightlife

polygonThere is a world you don’t know about. It is bright and loud and beautiful. People dance and sing. They revel in the madness. This world belongs to the freak and to the outcast. It belongs to the gamer. Here, you are player number one. Here, you are not laughed at for being strange or morose or even indifferent. This is the last bastion of expression for a select few and it is in this pantheon that you become the character and the character becomes irrelevant. This is the secret world that is the E3 after party.

As I push my way past the crowd I am greeted with one common sight. It is a certain and undeniable look, crisp and clear. The look says, “Hello, old friend. We made it! We’re here! We found the small bit of universe that is ours. So let’s dance.” In this alcohol drenched exuberant cacophony we find a home. In this place you can bump shoulders with lead programmers and shake hands with hip art directors. It belongs to you. The chosen few who get to see what is next, now. 8-bit dance remixes are played by a DJ that hovers at a distance that seems a mile above you and yet his look says that he is there strictly for you. Beautiful girls dance with you, and when you reference Reddit, or Sonic, or Mario, they understand it. When you reference some obscure bit of video game pop culture, they understand it instantly.

Allow me to paint a picture for you now of my experience with our good friends at Polygon and their party that kicked off E3. A remix of the Green Hill Zone theme plays as I mash buttons on an up-and-coming indie title made by a person that looks like me, talks like me, and feels the same way I do about the art of making and playing videogames. I am handed alcohol for free by people more beautiful than ought to exist. I sip cautiously, looking for a judging eye, but at last, after not finding one I slip into the bliss that is acceptance. Because everyone around me wants one thing: to dance and play videogames and be free.

It has been one day since I have become aware of the culture that surrounds E3, and I plan to dive deeper into that unknown. To shake hands with strangers and to dance with the beautiful freaks. I intend to pursue the path of gonzo journalism. I intend to make it as weird as possible and as true as is bearable. It has become my pet project to push the boundaries of this event. Long after the booths are closed I intend to tell you where the booths girls have gone. Long after the reveals are made I intend to tell you where the producers go to unwind. Long after I have had enough I intend to have one more for you.


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