Max Parker: What number E3 is this for you as far as covering the event?
Adam Sessler: We believe we started in 1999 so I think this is my twelfth.
MP: So you’ve seen a lot of changes I’m sure with your career and the actual format of the show. How has your experience changed over the years? Do you still get to make it out on the show floor and see the games you want to see or do you have to spend most of your time in the G4 booth doing interviews and things like that?
AS: I do spend most of my time in the G4 booth. The benefit of that is I get to see a lot of the games at the G4 booth, so I don’t have to wait in line to see other places on the floor. There’re usually three or four things I do make an appointment for because there are those 45-minute demos that are quite impressive.
MP: How long has G4 had the booth?
AS: That’s a good question. I think it’s been for the past four years, maybe five years we’ve been doing the live booth. Actually that’s been going on longer than that. I would say it was around 2004 that we had booth coverage. It’s gotten larger and larger. Actually the reason I said four, we actually spiced it up about four years ago where it became more comprehensive.
MP: Do you prefer it that way? Do you prefer having your centralized booth and bringing people in that you want to talk to or do you prefer going out on the floor and seeing things that way?
AS: It’s very tough to move around the floor especially back when we did move around the floor was when attendance at E3 was wholly unregulated and as long as your name was Timmy and you had a blog and said “I like video games” you got yourself a pass. Also, a lot of the developers are stuck in a room with very poor air conditioning for three days straight, doing demos all day on every half hour. Being able to bring the developers to us tends to make it more personable. Also, I love doing the demos live because I think it does bring a certain energy and an excitement of getting to see it in real time with everybody.
MP: So this E3 should be pretty substantial. We already have the announcement of Project Café from Nintendo and a ton of new software. What’s at the top of the list of things you’d like to see this E3?
AS: I think the new Nintendo Console, just to satisfy my curiosity. I’ve been pontificating on what they’re going to do with it and I definitely believe that this is not a successor to the Wii. It’s probably closer to a successor to the GameCube, to kind of get to that core audience that Nintendo kind of lost with the Wii. I’m assuming it’s going to be a system with a more traditional interface and a more traditional controller. A lot of developers are trying to make games with a little more complexity. Nintendo can make games. If they do go in that direction, that’s kind of a first; the idea that you can have two parallel consoles in one cycle, because I don’t think it’s there to replace the Wii. I think it’s yet another pillar in Nintendo’s arsenal.
MP: So you think the Wii is going to stick around?
AS: It’s a good question. You’re not seeing a ton of support coming form Nintendo right now, but it does have that casual appeal. Now I’m fully prepared to see the way the Kinect connects to the 360, move connect to the Playstation3, that the motion controller will be an option with Nintendo’s device, but it will not be the full means of interface.
MP: How about software-wise?
AS: I’m looking forward to see a lot of hardcore games. I think one that’s at the top of my list is the Elder Scrolls V. It’s such a huge leap for that franchise and that style of game. When a game creates that compelling world where you can completely immerse yourself in, it’s really one of those things that video games can do that cannot be replicated by any other medium out there. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of Uncharted 3 just because I was a huge fan of Uncharted 2 so I want to see that as well. I’m hoping there’re a couple games I don’t know about that I will be surprised by. One of these things about doing this for so many years, you learn about things that you can’t talk about. I remember being younger and suddenly saying just “wow” and being surprised at a press conference.
MP: Definitely, and with blogs and twitter growing it’s just impossible to keep anything under wraps. The rumors are always spreading about what we’re going to see.
AS: We were just looking at something that claimed to leak the specs of the new Nintendo console and I’m looking at it and thinking that there’s such a good chance this is fake, but someone for whatever reason made it look like it was real and put "Nintendo" on it.
MP: So leading up to E3 do you usually get more excited for the new hardware that’s around the corner or are you more excited about the software?
AS: I think at the end of the day I prefer the software because hardware is meaningless without a good game. I would rather see a good game for a system rather than a system that just does test demos. I don’t think that’s what Nintendo is going to do, but we’ve been down this path many times before.
MP: Let’s talk press conferences. Which of the big three has the most to prove with their press conference.
AS: Probably it is Sony, just because of the situation that the PSN hack has put them in. Based on what they’ve said, they will have everything up and running by the end of this week, which is almost essential. That way they can get out on stage, be contrite and then move forward. They have another piece of hardware coming out. They have the horribly codenamed NGP and hopefully they can show enough stuff that can get you excited that hopefully the whole thing with the PSN can fade into memory.
MP: Yeah I usually don’t get too excited for handhelds, but that’s piquing my interest for sure.
AS: It should be very impressive, but I think the concern now is how expensive it’s going to be. I still have the very strong memory of when they announced the price for the PS3, and the gasps that were in that room, it was like “you cannot tell us that this is going to be a $600 console.” What they’ve described being in this NGP sounds so expensive I think that it’s going to cause some trouble. They other issue is when are they actually going to release it. I wonder if the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. which we know has affected the manufacturing of certain high end electronic devices, it could have an impact on whether or not they can get it out for the holiday season.
MP: I agree it could really get pricy based on the specs plus with 3G there could be a monthly bill in there that could tic people off.
Once E3 kicks off how much sleep do you usually get? Is it constant work from when you wake up to when you eventually do go to sleep or is it writing and hosting etc.
AS: It is constant work and even when I’m not working per se there’s a certain energy of doing that much live TV and being in the E3 environment that I’m still functioning at that accelerated level and then I just get home, calm down, sleep, get up and sort of rinse, wash, repeat. In my later years I’m sleeping more than my younger ones.
MP: Do you have a favorite E3 moment ever from the years you’ve been covering?
AS: There’s a strong feeling of four years ago was when we really decided that we wanted a demo on the stage every 15 minutes and it was more games than we’ve ever brought to the stage before and I knew in the back of my head that there was something insane about this. We had that many games that the chance for something bad to happen increases and that homestretch moment when we were taping I can’t remember if it was Wednesday or Thursday when we were about to be done and nothing bad had happened and it was that feeling of absolute elation and satisfaction. That probably is the one that stands out. That or when I had to interview Jake Lloyd in 1999.
MP: What type of demos were they that you brought on stage?
AS: That year it was Fallout 3. We got to show really how extreme you could be in terms of the headshots and just watching some of that happening. I was just squealing like a little kid.
MP: I can imagine. How about a least favorite moment? Either something you knew wasn’t going to go over well or something that went wrong.
AS: I remember a time when it was in the midst of the GameCube and Nintendo had a press conference that was at the Hollywood center, but it wasn’t in the Kodak Theater. It was in another room and just nothing interesting came of it. Nintendogs was the highlight of the show and everyone just kind of walked out of there just baffled and amazed by this rather turgid two hours that passed in front of their eyes.
MP: If you could send a pre-E3 message to Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft before their press conferences what would it be?
[Laughs] I like this question. I think I would like to let them know that we’re a little smarter than those press conferences assume we are and that they need to get to the heart of what they’re really saying. There’s sort of those times that they say “Hey, look how great we are,” and we saw those same numbers a few hours before.
I'll catch up with Adam at the show next week to discuss more about the announcements from Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft as well as the new games being demoed.