The Big Scene

Well, I finally understand how Nick Callaway felt when attending a party over at the late, great Jay Gatsby’s house on Long Island. On Friday morning, I traveled down to the Nintendo World Store to attend the Q&A session that a few of the IGN editors were going to have there, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.

I got to the store at around 10:45 a.m., completely exhausted from the anxiousness I had the night before. This would be the first time I’d ever met anyone from the journalism side of the video game industry, and I have to say I was nervous. These people are my celebrities; I’ve read their articles every day for the last 6 years. I know these guys probably think of themselves as regular people, so my enthusiasm may seem a bit unwarranted, but I can’t help it. They’re just too damn cool. So I got there early to give me some time to soup myself up for the big shindig.

Only poor people would engrave their peasant GBAs.

But guess who I see up on the second floor, browsing the t-shirts? “Mr. Kotaku” himself, Brian Crecente. I couldn’t believe it. There was the editor to one of my favorite video game websites, in the same place I was. I soon introduced myself and we got into a pretty good conversation about, what else, video games. He told me that, while he was in the city for the big Nintendo conference the day before, he wanted to show his son Tristan the Mecca of all things Nintendo: the Nintendo World Store. During the conversation, he would periodically check up on him to see what he was doing, being the good dad that he is.

Soon, the staff of the store came over to him to give him his custom-embroidered Black DS Lite with the store’s logo etched into the top. It looked awesome, and it was only $20. I’ll probably get it done one of these days, now that I know they do that. After that, he went over to let his son see it, and maybe to play a game or two at the little sitting area with the GC kiosks, complete with egg-shelled swivel chairs.

After that, I retired to the stand-alone GC kiosks and played a little Resident Evil 4. Amazingly, the game still has legs, after having beaten it numerous times. As the demo ended, Brian actually came back over to me and started up another conversation with me.

And then it hit me: this was not a dream. I read this man’s blog site every day, but to see him, let alone talk to him, was ethereal for me. I sincerely thought I was dreaming. My mind would wander a little thinking about how amazing the situation was, but I soon shot myself back into the conversation, making sure I didn’t miss anything. He talked about the conference the day before, the current game on the DS he was playing (Lego Star Wars II), and a few other things.

Soon, other people that recognized him starting showing up. One man even recognized him from his Rocky Mountain News newspaper. A few store employees joined in on the conversation, and we all talked for like half an hour. I was completely enraptured.

It’s hard to look cool while sitting in an egg.

But, as soon as it began, it ended. Brian wanted to get back to his son, and some of the store employees had to help with customers. So we all separated to different corners of the store.

But what I didn’t realize was that the IGN editors showed up as we were having the conversation. I immediately saw IGN Wii’s Matt Casamissina looking at the Nintendo memorabilia, looking suave as ever in a nice little casual suit. He was talking to another guy, so I didn’t want to be rude. I also noticed a few guys filming the place for a story. I started to wander about when I saw a clerk that was had been in the conversation with Brian and me. She was a cool chick, so we talked for a little bit. She was almost as rabid a video game fan as I was. I showed her the Phoenix Wright t-shirt I had on, and she told me that she loved the game. She even liked the soundtrack for it, which I’ve agreed with a few times here on videolamer.

As we were talking, a crowd started to form around the IGN guys. Matt had a pretty good crowd going, while IGN DS’s Craig Harris had only a few people. I tried fruitlessly to get in on the conversation with Craig, but it was no use. I didn’t even try to talk to Matt; the circle had grown so big that I barely saw him over the other guys’ heads.

Feeling my efforts were futile, I went back to a GC kiosk and started RE4 again. This time, though, I was on the kiosk that was surrounding the little Q&A session going on, making sure not to miss anything.

After I got to the village scene, Matt finally broke away from the crowd and began talking to one of the video editors that was filming the place. They were right behind me. I wasn’t sure who it was that was so close, but once I turned around and saw that it was Matt, I felt a little rush of anxiety. I felt a little better seeing that he may have been watching me play RE4, but I couldn’t help but feeling scared. Here was another journalist that I looked up to, and he was right behind me. I immediately went back to my game, trying to calm myself down.

The game ended and Matt was still close to the area. I took a few steps back and leaned on a railing that was probably a few feet from Matt. I tried not looking too nervous, but it was pretty hard. Matt finished talking with that guy, and started walking back into the crowd. As he passed me, I finally introduced myself, and we got into a conversation. I told him that it must be weird to be interviewed, as he’s usually doing the interviewing. He laughed, but another guy came up and interrupted our conversation.

The guy blocking the games may look tough in that pose, but he’s still wearing a purple shirt.

I actually got a little upset. First, it was rude to do that in the first place. And secondly, how many times will I get to talk to Matt Casamissina? Not a lot, so it annoyed me that this guy cut me off prematurely. He asked about the lack of a component video option for the Wii. Matt said he had only heard composite as an option while at the conference. This also upset me, seeing as how I bought a component video-out cable from Nintendo specifically for the Wii.

After that, the same video editor from before called over to Matt to get him into a shot for the video. And that was the last time I ever saw Matt.

At this time, it was almost 1 p.m. and I was over 2 hours late for work. I knew I had to go, and there was probably no possibility of getting into another conversation with so many people running around trying to do the same. I then persuaded myself to get going. I made sure to say goodbye to Brian before I left, though. Tristan was running around, so I couldn’t talk to him for too long, but I couldn’t just leave without saying goodbye. I went down to the first floor, found Brian, and shook his hand, hoping he had a good day.

As I left, I still had a nagging feeling that this was a dream. The city was enduring a light rain storm, which added to the feeling of dislocation. I just couldn’t believe it. The experience of having a good, hearty conversation with two people that are at the top of an industry is so exciting that I barely contained myself.

This was my E3, and I was insanely happy that I made the trip to the store, skipping half a day of work. I may never get to see these guys ever again, but I will never forget the time I did. Both of them, Brian and Matt, are two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. If you two are reading this, I thank you for making my Friday morning one of the coolest moments of my life.

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17 years ago

that nintendo store was on my commute home until i moved last week.  should anyone ever be in midtown manhattan i definitely recommend stopping by.  in addition to the large selection of playable games (maybe a dozen ds’s, a handful of gamecubes, etc) they have some interesting memorabilia, such as old game and watch systems, crap autographed by miyamoto, famicom systems, clothing,  all kinds of stuff to distract a fan of gaming.

17 years ago

One amazing piece of memorabilia is the napalmed GameBoy. A soldier brought the original GB to the first Iraqi war, and had his system burned to a crisp. Unbelievably, the thing still works. The store even keeps it on. The entire casing is melted to hell, but the screen works perfectly. There’s only one line of pixels missing on it, but knowing it was nearly fried, it’s pretty amazing. That just goes to show you that Nintendo knows how to make good hardware. You have to, especially with little kids flipping out all the time and trying to break the system. Lord knows I’ve tried…