Last week, I and four of my colleagues took on the long travel from our Hamburg headquarters to the sunny state of California - But not to dwell on the magnificent beaches of the pacific coast, but to visit the mecca for every game enthusiast: The Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, in Los Angeles. Of course we didn’t go there empty-handed, but we had something very special in our heavy bags: Kartuga, a pirate-themed live-action MMO with lots of PvP and some RPG-aspects, developed by our colleagues from Ticking Bomb Games. We chose the E3 to announce the game, and it was the first time we presented it to people outside of our offices, which was pretty exciting for all of us…But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning:
Jetlagged and exhausted from a 12-hour flight we arrived at LAX, the airport of Los Angeles. Normal tourist’s bags are full of clothing and sunscreen, but ours were laden with laptops and cables instead (which are way heavier than clothes, I can tell you that!). After we dropped everything off at the hotel, Alexa, our American colleague, who was familiar with the area, showed us around a little bit. She introduced us to some lesser known specialties of the local cuisine – seemingly, Californians love Mexican food as much as pizza or even burgers.
On Monday, we entered the sacred halls of E3 for the first time, and I, being a first timer in contrast to my colleagues, was amazed by the sheer size of the whole event. Everywhere, people were working on booths, hammering, plugging in monitors or practicing on stages. Our own space, right next to the folks from Nintendo, was set up quickly, so visitors passing by could have a look at our trailers and video footage from Kartuga. In the middle, we had a conference table, where we planned to present the game.
The next three days went by in a blur. There was little to no time for me to wander around a lot, because we had our own product to introduce. The journalists, mainly showing up in teams of two, were really eager to get more information about us and our games. Most of them had heard of InnoGames, but the concept of free-to-play still was very new and exciting to them. After a short introduction, we presented some core facts about Kartuga, but quickly we realized that we had to keep it short: After one or two screenshots, most journalist’s fingers started twitching – they wanted nothing more than trying it out for themselves.
Luckily we had a 2-on-2 PvP-situation prepared anyway. My colleague Alexa fared pretty good, and our guests were pro’s anyway, but even with the training I received from the Kartuga-team, I got severely beaten most of the time, which, if any, even increased the reviewer’s joy. Who better to destroy than the guy who kept you from playing with his stupid game presentation? After the match, they were all very impressed, and eager to know when they could expect the game to officially launch (we still have to be patient for that).
When I had free time, I tried to do some kind of a “normal visitor’s” tour: I wandered around, play tested some games, checked out the competitors, tried to score a bunch of cool goodies for my friends at home (thanks again for the Halo-shirt, 343 Industries!) and took a couple of pictures with some dressed up booth ladies. But I have to say – as exciting as everything on E3 was, it quickly turned out to be utterly exhausting as well. The sheer amount of visual stimulation – from the gigantic screens to flashlights, people everywhere, enormous statues and set-pieces of various games – was too much for me to handle over a longer time period.
On the evenings my day wasn’t over, of course. Getting together with other people from the games industry for some dinner or beer doesn’t sound like much work, but still, we remained official representatives of InnoGames, and most of our conversations revolved around what we do and how we are doing it. A popular topic was the general future of gaming and the importance of active and dedicated online communities for games. Lots of gaming veterans I met had next to no experience with that, and they were eager to hear us talk about our experiences.
After three days of video game madness and little sleep, my flight back home on Friday morning was the first time I was able to close my eyes and finally recap all the things I had seen, all the people I had met. L.A. and the folks I encountered at E3 left me with a whole new feeling about how many people in the world love games, how passionate they are about them, and how much joy we bring to gamers with what we do, all of us. Sometimes, no more than a couple of virtual cannonballs sinking a ship controlled by the person next to me can bring joy beyond imagination.