I rose with the sun on Tuesday in Los Angeles, my body still not yet adapted to the time change (I live on the east coast). The city has been obscured by particularly thick haze lately. I’m in LA this week to cover E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, which kicks off on Thursday.
The morning was spent at the LA Convention Center, which is only a few blocks away from the hotel I’m staying at — I had to square away my press pass and various other administrative stuff before the event kicks off. Although the security that covers the entrances to each hall doesn’t like it when you try to take pictures of the show floor, I did snap off a few images of the public areas. Construction crews, cranes and other heavy equipment were omnipresent as booths were assembled and equipment was set up.
Watching a show like E3 get put together is always a vicarious thrill, because it’s on such a grander scale than other events I’ve covered, like Macworld Expo — which in itself is fairly awe-inspiring at times. Companies like Electronic Arts, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo outlay huge spreads to display at this show, and they waste no effort to maximize the impact of their presentations. The west and south halls of the convention center are chock-full of huge signs, video screens, and booth paraphernalia of all shapes and sizes. I’ve heard rumors that vendor attendance at this year’s show is down, but it’s apparent that the big companies are still ready to spend lots of money to get out their messages.
Perhaps surprisingly, Apple is occupying show floor space this year. I had previously been told by an Apple representative that they were only hosting a private area to be used for meetings with game publishers, but they’re clearly listed as an exhibitor in Petree Hall. Hopefully I’ll get the full story on Thursday, once that area is open to the public. It’d be nice if Apple had some surprises to show.
Speaking of Apple, I’ve discovered that the company is doing quite an effective job of marketing their products to the masses in this city. I’ve come across a number of impressive billboards in my wanderings — some that blanket the entire sides of buildings. And, as usual, Apple has a great “Think Different” collage occupying one side of the Hotel Figueroa, which is in plain sight of the convention center itself.
I’m not having as much trouble getting around the city as I expected. The first day in LA is always an intimidating experience, but outside of the traffic jams on the freeways, it’s an easy area to navigate, and so far I haven’t had any problems getting to where I need to go. Gas prices in this town are pretty incredible, however, higher even than where I hail from — finding a gas station that sells its product for less than two dollars a gallon is next to impossible, as I’m sure my boss will realize when he gets my next expense report.
I headed south to Irvine to spend the afternoon with the folks at MacPlay and Mumbo Jumbo Games, who are working on a number of neat projects for the Mac. They’re a great bunch of folks with a lot going on right now, and I’m sure the Mac game community appreciates their efforts.
While I was in the area, I popped into South Coast Plaza, a huge shopping mall located nearby in Costa Mesa. Apple plans to open a store in the mall, and given the upscale stores that occupy the area, it’s little surprise. Companies like Bang & Olufsen, Dolce & Gabbana, Bruno Magli, Porsche Design and many other upscale retailers make South Coast Plaza their home.
Thanks to many readers familiar with or living in the area, I’ve had a number of great responses to my request yesterday for eateries, places to hang out, and stuff to do while I’m in town, and I’ll make sure to drop everyone a line as soon as possible. I encourage you to keep the suggestions coming, too — I’ll be here all week, and I’m hoping to take some friends and colleagues to dinner at a few of the local establishments that have been pointed out.