The Electronics Entertainment Expo is a land of dreams and magic, of electronic hopes and digital wishes. Booth babes frolic between the tall grass and fresh water flows from the various exclusive press lounges. It is a time of great joy and entertainment. When the stars align and all is right with the world, there is much to love about E3. Here is a short list of the shiniest jewels found on the convention crown:

The Good Games

ALL THE PRETTY IN ONE PLACE

In no particular order: Dragon’s Dogma, Prey 2, Battlefield 3, Skyrim, Arkham City, XCOM, BioShock Infinite, Tomb Raider, Uncharted 3, Far Cry 3, Super Mario Bros, Zelda: Skyward Sword, Luigi’s Mansion 2, Mario Kart 3DS, Gears of War 3, Mass Effect 3, Final Fantasy XIII-2, and we’re sure we’ve already forgotten some important ones no doubt you’ll highlight for us in the comments. Good games are good, and there were plenty of good games at E3. No real surprises, sadly, as almost everything at E3 was stuff already shown last year or the year before, but most have come a long way since. Especially XCOM, which has gone from looking like a bland setpiece shooter, to something more resembling an X-Com experience.

The Free Food

LOW-FAT TOO!

Specifically the little hotdogs at the leadup to the Sony press conference. After skipping breakfast that morning and walking around downtown Los Angeles to get to the various Ubisoft and EA press conferences, nothing tastes so good as anything you can get your hands on. Which Sony delivered. While the free media food in the media lounge is usually not all that great (mushy sandwiches and dubious lemonade), it usually comes with a free chocolate chip cookie and a bag of decent-enough chips. That cookie has saved lives, my friend.

Indie Developers

NOT WITH YOUR MOM DUDE!

After a long day of overproduced “sure-to-sell-two-million” triple-A experiences that’ll last about 8 hours and cost you R500, nothing is more relaxing than stopping by the IndieCade booth where the indie developers roost. Their melodic clucking and imaginative dances are like mana from heaven if you’ve spent too much time around soulless PR drones (that are all networked and say the same thing just with a different template). Some highly mention-able highlights: Deep Sea (a game with no visuals, only sound, where you wear a gas mask and pretend you’re underwater), Desktop Dungeons (you’re South African, you should know what this is), Hohokum (such pretty colourful lines of saving people) and Skulls of the Shogun (arcade strategy game with a wonderful interface). Indie developers bring hope, and dream of a brighter more fun-filled future that doesn’t involve endless shooting down an iron-sight. Okay, so the game where you have to kiss someone after putting magnets on your tongue is kinda weird, but weird in a good way. God bless you, indie developers. May you be successful and one day eat more than ramen noodles.

Nintendo 3DS StreetPass

MULTI-CULTURAL!

The 3DS has this great feature called StreetPass. It allows the 3DS to exchange data (like digital sex!) with another 3DS that passes by. Some games use the feature to exchange ghost data so you can race/fight an opponent’s virtual recreation, but the real joy comes from Mii Plaza. Every time you walk past someone with a 3DS you get their Mii and a little quote the person sets themselve. Most people just put in their Twitter name, others put in a funny statement or bizzare quote (kudos to the person with “stonerboner” for making us laugh during a long meeting). All the little Miis you collect bring with them puzzle pieces for completing a bunch of 3D models you can view, and warm bodies for fighting the ghosts in the Final Fantasy-esq “Find Mii” hat-collecting game. It’s silly, but more importantly, it’s fun. Walking from one meeting to another, then flipping open your 3DS to see how many people you tagged on your way over and what they have to say, has a childlike voyeurism to it. Getting tagged by some industry veterans is pretty cool too. I will always cherish my Reggie Fils-Aime and Shigeru Miyamoto tags. I like to bring their Mii up at night and cuddle them until Reggie’s eyes give me that look, and then I know: it’s time to play more Dead or Alive: Dimensions. He knows just what I like.

Annual-ity

SEE YOU NEXT TIME, SPACE COWBOY

E3 is great (when it isn’t terrible). But no matter how fantastic someone you like may be, spend enough time around them non-stop and pretty soon you’ll be wishing them a long walk off a short cliff. E3 is just like that. The first day is magical and exciting and you can’t wait to see all the people and games and boothbabes (Y NO BOOTH-HUNKS PUBLISHERS?). The second day you have your groove and you know what to expect and you remember to pack your own lunch. By the third day you’re thinking that perhaps it’s time you find a real job instead of covering videogames, because nobody is worth how sore your feet are right now and if that fat guy in the Mass Effect 3 shirt blocking your way doesn’t walk faster you’re going to cram that little toy tank he’s fussing over right up his ass. Like all things in life, moderation is the key, so perhaps the best part about E3 is that it ends, and it only comes around once a year. If it was longer, or more frequent, the number of videogame-related deaths may rise to problematic levels. So with great joy we climb into a taxi, hop on our personal jet at the airport and fly back to whence we came. Goodbye all you wonderful, wonderful people. Please, let there be less of you next year. Please, let there be even more interesting games next year.

Getting cavities from all the sugar-coating?
Check out The Five Worst Things About E3 2011