This vintage photo, from my first ever E3 in 2004, shows you the crowds you can expect to fight through for three days straight.

I’ve heard quite a few people react to the news about E3 opening its doors to the public like kids given the chance to visit Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. It’s not hard to understand why, either: for over two decades, E3 has maintained its brand as the place where the game industry’s most important announcements and most exciting debuts happen.

Breathless press coverage makes E3 seem like a never-ending wonderland where you can sample freely from games months or even years before they’re available in stores, without a care in the world. Heck, I remember growing up reading about E3 (and CES before it) and thinking of the show as a sort of gaming mecca that I must visit at some point in my life, just to prove my devotion to my hobby.

Today, as someone who’s been to E3 10 times, let me lower your expectations just a bit. Yes, E3 is a unique opportunity to enjoy some of the most anticipated games the industry has to offer months ahead of time. But it’s also a sweaty, noisy, crowded slog where you’ll be lucky to play a handful of games amid hours of waiting in line and aimless wandering. It’s like a theme park—except it’s only open for three days a year and instead of roller coasters, there are rough, tightly controlled game demos that you have to play standing up amid the din of a jet engine.

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Source: So you think you want to go to E3… | Ars Technica

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