E3 2017: I’ll Be Your 1-Up Boy

For many gamers across the world, E3 is like Christmas. Being the pinnacle of video game marketing, the event itself is overflowing with the energy of a theme park – complete with colorful attractions and lines of people waiting for their turn to have fun. Being my third E3, this was a first for me as not a part of the IGDA scholarship program – originally a recipient and now a manager of it. IGDA Scholars no longer includes E3 as part of their roster, but E3 still holds significance for my agenda. As someone who specializes in journalism, marketing, and PR – specifically in games – E3 is a great opportunity for me to continue fostering friendships in the industry.

Traffic in New Donk City

With a love for Nintendo games which dates back almost as long as I’ve been alive, naturally, my attention was mostly on the Big N this year. Nintendo certainly did not disappoint. Their presentation managed to hit all the right spots, successfully building more hype for the Nintendo Switch. There’s a lot to look forward to this year for Switch owners: ARMS, Splatoon 2, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild DLC, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Fire Emblem Warriors, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and – especially – Super Mario Odyssey. Reveals of new Yoshi and Kirby games, plus announcements of a core Pokémon game AND Metroid Prime 4 in development only adds fuel to the flame.

As Nintendo continued its E3 coverage with Treehouse Live and additional reveals of another Metroid for the Nintendo 3DS and new amiibos, my anticipation for visiting Nintendo’s booth grew. Super Mario Odyssey was the clearly the star of the show with Nintendo’s booth dressed up as New Donk City. However, with an E3 opened to the public for the first time in several years, Nintendo’s booth resembled that of a giant mosh pit more than anything else.

People waited for up to four hours in undefined lines just to play 10-minute demos of Super Mario Odyssey. The crowds were a common complaint and although crowd control improved over time, it was clear that the ESA was ill-prepared for this influx. I only got to be hands-on with two games at E3 as a result – Super Mario Odyssey being one of them.

Having Tea with the Professor

In my position as a social media coordinator for Novy, I was really happy to have been given an opportunity to work with Level-5 to plan and host the Layton café – a one-day event at E3 celebrating the 10th anniversary of the series and promoting the upcoming Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy. I’ve enjoyed Level-5 games since I’ve played Professor Layton and the Curious Village for the Nintendo DS, so it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

Our hard work paid off as the Layton café was a big success with media and fans alike. Personally, I helped with media interviews with Akihiro Hino and as a “puzzle master” – welcoming guests and providing “hint coins” (a.k.a. clues) for puzzles. Witnessing the excitement from fans as they soaked in the atmosphere was a very rewarding experience and something I’m glad I got to play a role in.

Music from the Heart

That night ended on a high note – literally – as I attended the Kingdom Hearts concert with Yoko Shimomura (Kingdom Hearts composer) and Tetsuya Nomura (Kingdom Hearts director) in attendance. Again I witnessed the enthusiasm of fans as they shed tears over a performance they never thought would come to fruition. I’ve never seen a more passionate audience for an orchestra.

On a Throne for a Day

I wrapped up the remainder of E3 exploring the parts of the L.A. Convention Center I did not yet explore. After a bit of dancing at the Ubisoft booth, I got to play my second demo – another Level-5 game, Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom. After defeating a dragon and taking my place upon the throne at the Ni no Kuni booth, the rest of my day was dedicated to meeting industry friends.

E3 was a fruitful time for me – particularly in rejuvenating relationships. The two games I was able to play left a favorable impression on me. Mario Odyssey is bringing back a beloved old 3D Mario formula with many fun twists and Ni no Kuni II’s revamped battle system is a welcomed change. E3’s lively atmosphere is contagious, but I particularly loved how Nintendo transported its visitors to the bustling streets of New Donk City – fitting considering the traffic this year. Nintendo proved that it is a good year to be a Nintendo fan. Having the chance to do event marketing for a Professor Layton title was the cherry on top. Until next E3, I’m looking forward to seeing how the year plays out.

Running a Mario Kart Tournament

I’m very proud of my relationship with Nintendo. And I’m grateful for the IGDA empowering me to use that relationship to benefit the community. Earlier this year, I was able to arrange a wonderful Q&A with Nintendo Treehouse members — Tim O’Leary and Reiko Ninomiya — at GDC.

This time, I was communicating with Nintendo about running an officially endorsed Mario Kart tournament at SIEGE!

SIEGE 2016

For those who do not know, SIEGE is short for Southern Interactive Entertainment and Games Expo. I can best describe it as a really small Game Developers Conference in the heart of the South — Atlanta.

Before I moved to Tokyo in late 2014, I was part of the SIEGE organizational committee. It doesn’t seem much has changed during my absence in 2015. SIEGE still remains cozy as the small, but beating heart of Atlanta’s game development community.

Due to constraints, I refrained from returning to my previous involvement with SIEGE.  This time my involvement with SIEGE was as a board member of IGDA Atlanta. Our 2nd annual Game Studio Smackdown was being hosted at the conference!

Planning Game Studio Smackdown

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Game Studio Smackdown touts itself as a game tournament by game devs, for game devs. It’s IGDA Atlanta’s event to help unite the game dev community in camaraderie. It was a hit last year, so the board was eager to bring it back for a second time. We posted a poll during the summer which resulted in Rocket League as our most popular pick, followed by Mario Kart 8!

As the resident “Nintendo guy,” I was placed in charge of coordinating and running the Mario Kart 8 side of the tournament, which I gladly accepted! I reached out to some of my contacts at Nintendo of America and got introduced to the legal team for the first time. It may sound odd, but I actually really enjoyed it! Serving as liaison between Nintendo and the IGDA, an agreement was formed permitting us to host the Mario Kart tournament!

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A sample of social media posts I prepared and had approved by Nintendo’s legal and business teams!
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Tournament plans sketched out by Alex Batres.

Securing the agreement was the easy part! Planning the tournament structure was the true challenge. Therefore, I recruited the help of my friend, Alex Batres. He not only had good knowledge of Mario Kart, but was keenly familiar with video game tournament structure as a competitive video game player. Together, we established a game plan which prepared us well while running the competition!

Executing Game Studio Smackdown

Thanks to Molly Proffitt (IGDA Atlanta president), SIEGE, and Battle & Brew providing the equipment, setup for the Mario Kart preliminaries was incredibly smooth! I honestly couldn’t be happier.

Alex proved to be an invaluable asset, taking ownership of maintaining the brackets while I focused on commentary. I had a lot of fun and I received good feedback about my performance during the event too!

Ultimately, Alex, who was also a competitor, became the Mario Kart champion with 50 points! All that hard work paid off for him! But for me, the best part was seeing other game devs love the game as much as I do!

E3 2016: Nintendo’s Zelda Creating Big Ripples

E3 2016 Expectations

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

In complete honesty, I didn’t expect much from E3 2016. With the growing presence of the Internet, the need for a gargantuan press event seems to shrink by the day. However, the spectacle of E3 still makes me long for it. Like a kid wishing to go to Disneyland.

I spent most of E3 2016 watching the the most unlikely of candidates: Nintendo.

I need to make a special shout out for Sony. They delivered a press event that left people on the edge of their seats with nonstop, impressive showings with titles such as Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Last Guardian, and a surprising empathetic twist on God of War (a bloodthirsty game that typically doesn’t appeal to me). Sony’s dive in VR this autumn was the cherry on top. Despite this, I spent most of E3 2016 watching the the most unlikely of candidates: Nintendo.

Continue reading E3 2016: Nintendo’s Zelda Creating Big Ripples

Freelance Writer & Nintendo Connoisseur