It’s that time of year again! We’re all set to gather ’round, overly excited about 30 seconds of footage at a time, while getting needlessly upset that the one game we wanted wasn’t announced.
Seriously Sony, where the hell is my new Ape Escape? While most of public interaction with E3 simply involves watching it, members of the press and content creators will have opportunities to preview the latest upcoming games. Oftentimes with hands-on demos. So I thought it would be fun to lift the veil and give all of you a glimpse at what it’s like to be part of the gaming media landscape. To help with this, I want to showcase the professional planning, booking, and information gathering tool put out by the ESA for E3 2021.
Update – June 9, 2021: The ESA gave Fanbyte this statement about the lack of black hairstyles available in the avatar creation section and their plans for adding them in the future. “This is a priority for the portal team, and we are working to resolve it as soon as possible. We hope to have an updated selection of hair within the avatar creation process soon.”
To sign up, just head over to the E3 Expo website and pick which category you belong in. Once you register, and if you’re approved, you’ll get an email inviting you to log into the E3 Portal. You’ll also get instructions on how to set up a password for your personal account. After all the boring work is done, log into the professional E3 Portal. It’s time to, uh, make a knock-off Bitmoji of yourself.
Wait why is there a character creator? Am I supposed to make this look like me? Fuck it, I’ll just catfish as a stereotypical anime villain. I’ve watched enough of The Circle; they’ll never know.
You can customize your skin color, hair, eyes, facial hair, clothing, and background. Unfortunately, you’re limited to a pretty basic palette. There are no fun alternate species to pick from. Nor is there much, if anything, in the way of Black hairstyles, as several Fanbyte staffers pointed out today. Nonetheless, this will be the avatar that appears when you interact with others or when people decide to visit your profile. Also, at least from what I can tell, there is no way to actually change your look once you finalize your avatar. So make sure you are happy with the final outcome.
Or don’t… Honestly, who cares? I feel like I’m two seconds away from booking a Disney vacation.
Navigating the Portal
Once you design your avatar, you can freely explore the different areas of the E3 Portal. Along the top row, you can pick from several different categories: including Booths, People, Events, Forums, and Friends. Booths are where you can interact with a variety of different publishers, see media assets like photos, a company calendar for the event, and any articles it’s uploaded. Additionally, you can check out individual games under a company’s brand by selecting Products. Then click the image of the game.
Wait, why do IGN, Polygon, and Gamespot get a booth? Where’s the Fanbyte booth?! Geoff Keighley would have given us a booth…
The People section is solely for getting in contact with others who have signed up for the E3 Portal. Everyone who has joined is listed here in alphabetical order based on their first names. If you’re looking for someone specific, you need to use the Search bar in the top left to manually type their name. There’s no way to filter this area based on outlet or company. Clicking on someone’s name will bring up their profile where you can read through any info they’d added to their About Me section. Thankfully it doesn’t share much else, since you can just… pull up anyone’s profile on a whim with seemingly no way to opt out.
You can also add people as friends like I did with Easy Allies’ Brandon Jones. Don’t pretend like you didn’t see my invite Brandon. I know you did.
The Events tab is… nothing. There’s nothing here. I assume this is where streams or information about those streams will go, but who honestly knows at this point? Forums are where you can relive your mid-2000s GameFAQs fantasies and shitpost about E3 with a bunch of professionals across five categories. You can either add or reply to comments in any of the forums, but there is no way to create individual topics for discussion. I imagine this is where some people will go if they are confused about specific aspects of E3, or simply want some tips covering it.
This is basically just an isolated version of Twitter. Though it is a great way to tell innocent newcomers from the jaded media folks still recovering from standing hours in line for the latest Rabbids game.
Points and Badges
Now we enter the strangest aspect of the E3 Portal: the points and badge system. Apparently, the ESA thought it would be neat to gamify this professional business tool with leaderboards and a way to earn bragging rights. To earn points you need to complete challenges, you know, like Fortnite. All challenge can be viewed by clicking your profile and selecting the “My Current Quests and Progress” tab. On the right will be a list of tasks, along with how many points these will award you for your trouble.
As for the fire icon, this brings you to the badges page which just shows all the awards people are accidentally earning already. Outside of bragging rights for engaging with a press event, I guess, there doesn’t appear to be any reason to engage with this feature. Maybe it’s just a way to show who actually does their job better than someone else… I think? Honestly, if I can’t even redeem these points for some stupid E3 swag, then why would someone under even the “Fan” category bother? Not to mention the entire portal is terribly optimized and hard to navigate. I fear other folks in the press might actually read this guide hoping for answers.
But I’ve got nothing. I’m sorry… I know that’s not the answer you want, but I have no fucking clue why there is a point system. God, E3 hasn’t even started and I’m already tired. Remember when all of these conferences were just spread out across the whole summer? I miss that. It was so much easier to manage than shoving everything into a week. This is our punishment for making so many press event jokes.
Anyway, make sure to check out Fanbyte’s Hot Game Summer streams and coverage during E3! We will have a lot of great content coming out and would love it if you dropped by.