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What Is E3

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In two weeks, I will fulfill one of my childhood dreams for the sixth time over by attending E3. The Electronic Entertainment Expo, held every June in Los Angeles, is no longer the biggest video game convention on the planet, but it’s the most important. I should say importance, in this case, is a measurement of money and sweat.

At E3, the biggest video game publishers announce and promote their newest games, often produced with more developers at a greater expense than their predecessors. The gathering is a chance at national exposure for games that, despite their million dollar budgets, struggle to appear in national newspapers or mainstream magazines.

Whether or not E3 is culturally relevant is less clear. Pop culture-wise, the latest Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed are presented like annual reports on the industry’s latest trends. You like multiplayer now? Or Horde modes? Or asynchronous co-op? They’ll have it, just tell them how to please you! But the tip of the creative spear, the games that establish what’s new and interesting and daring, they don’t have a reputation for appearing at the bombastic event.

In the past, those games, made on small budgets by small teams, couldn’t afford to show up. This year may be the first E3 in which indie and PC games make a big splash. It’ll be nice to see some newcomers mingling with the familiar faces, Farming Simulators in the same room as Mario and Forza.

I realize all of this may sound like nonsense to you. That’s why I invited Polygon’s Griffin McElroy to explain E3. McElroy has attended the show more times than I have, and remains enthusiastic about the spectacle.

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