E3 2017 Had Major Security Flaws – One Step Away From Disaster

This is an editorial piece. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of, and should not be attributed to, Niche Gamer as an organization.

This year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo has come and gone, and now that it’s been roughly a week since the last day of the show, both myself and the staff of Niche Gamer have had some time to collect our thoughts regarding the show, and how we feel about its current outlook. To be frank: The Entertainment Software Association (the folks behind E3) need to make changes, and fast.

Collectively, the staff of Niche Gamer has something like 30+ years of attendance at our industry’s yearly E3. I’ve gone these past six yeas or so, and our marketing / media manager Michael has been going for over a dozen years. This was the first year the show opened up to the “public,” i.e. anyone could buy a pass for a couple hundred dollars. We called these patrons the “green badges.”

Say whatever you want about non-press, I love seeing people getting excited over video games. It makes me excited. Generally, the majority of our bookings were off the floor, in private meeting rooms. Here’s the problem: security has always been lax at E3, and for the show to be totally public, this is a major security issue.

When we thought of the number of security flaws at this year’s E3, it legitimately worried us. There were numerous times our badges weren’t even looked at, and there were many, many times we entered the concourse meeting rooms only to see no security at all. These meeting rooms are strictly for industry and press, so you can imagine how it’s a problem to have regular patrons there.

The concourse meeting rooms are mostly small meeting rooms with one entrance/exit, with only a handful of PR employees – the rest are actual game developers working on said games. The strive by some to get as much free swag as possible had some people literally bugging these companies for freebies – something that’s not only annoying, but rude.

To go even further, people literally managed to sneak their way into the showfloor with zero credentials at all – you can read about one infamous and well-documented case of that here. I’ve been to game trade shows all over the country and the ones in California have the most nonexistent security.

One of our staff members was even assaulted by normal-badge wearers when he was trying to get a Super Mario Odyssey visor – getting his shirt ripped up only to later get the visor stolen off his head and never returned. There was also a literal fist-fight in the west hall with – you guessed it, normal badge wearers. They were fighting over free swag, of course.

An ongoing issue the ESA and the companies attending as exhibitors have run into is the increasing push to open the show to the public. First they allowed trade-related folks, GameStop workers, Doritos employees, etc., only to now fully open it to the public. Now, it’s virtually impossible to play a game as press unless you’ve booked a time way ahead in advance.

You could make an argument for the show remaining public, but honestly for that to be feasible moving forward a number of changes should happen, first security and then more kiosks as a close second. To offset the already burst-at-the-seams show, the ESA should perhaps consider following the Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association, who run Tokyo Game Show.

Coming off this, should E3 remain a three day show, perhaps one full day should be restricted to just press and industry – honestly so long as we can get our work done we’re happy. I mention this because there were numerous times we had to record on the floor, both public and in private, where normal badge wearers constantly trashed our camera rig – or simply ruined our footage. At numerous times, you literally couldn’t move or walk on the show floor – an issue even for us as we went from booking to booking with our gear.

I’m not saying a disaster can happen, but it would have been pretty damn easy for someone to sneak a weapon into this year’s E3. Until this year, the show has mostly been focused on people involved with the industry. It felt like the ESA wasn’t prepared for the extra 15,000 non-industry people, and neither were the security. The above example of people actually sneaking in with zero credentials is just the tip of the iceberg – if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.

Whenever I go to PAX, they search everyone’s backpacks or purses because naturally you don’t want to let a sociopath or a religious zealot concealing a weapon into a densely populated trade show. PAX East security even has you go through metal detectors. This doesn’t happen at E3, and that’s deeply concerning.

I’m not telling the ESA what to do, I’m simply the messenger hoping to make E3 better than ever. We legitimately enjoy the show and everyone involved – most especially the developers and wonderful PR folks that make all our bookings happen.

Watch our feed and make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel as well as our big E3 2017 megathread for all our upcoming videos and previews!

Did you attend this year’s E3? If not, did you watch any footage from the showfloor? How do you feel about the current state of the event? Sound off in the comments below!

Brandon Orselli

About

Big Papa Overlord at Niche Gamer. Italian. Dad. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry. I also write about music, food, & beer. Also an IT guy.

  • BaconCatBug

    “religious zealot” Yeah because we all know it’s those darn Amish blowing up everything in the US

  • Uncle Ocelot

    I know what you’re getting at, but I don’t think it really applies here.

  • CrusaderEsper

    I’m pretty sure E3 has always been open to “trade-related” people such as GameStop or other video game retail employees because half the reason the show exists is for such companies to do research for purchase orders.

    Doritos and Mountain Dew have no business being there, but now that the show is open to the public it’s all up in the air. I’m pretty sure TGS or one of the other major video game conventions has an “industry only” day and then goes into public access the next day.

  • Well I made that point in the article hehe. It’s just out of control now

  • Uncle Ocelot

    That Reddit post about the two dudes who just managed to sneak into E3 by looking like bartenders is crazy, talk about a security blunder. That fist-fight sounds pretty embarrassing too, I guess basic etiquette is a little difficult for some.

  • chaoguy

    Hell not even that. If supporters of political parties are getting stabbed in the street or shot at baseball games- what happens if a dev is branded with doing wrong-think by the sort of deluded people who think their game will brainwash kids into being the 4th reich?

  • chaoguy

    Totally agree splitting the event between press & public. Even if the event had decent security, it’s just too many people- and too much temptation for the worst of normal folk to steal camera gear or pretend to be press.

    And like I said in reply to another commenter- today there is a big risk of one overly triggered person who thinks shooting a dev for standing up for what he wants to do is killing the next Hitler.

    I’m the sort of person who won’t queue for more than 10 mins for something I want. Hour long lines are a farce. The number of attendees need to be dramatically reduced. But less people = less ticket money and less profit/money to pay for the venue.
    So while I’d love to see a reduced number of max attendees (perhaps running the days for longer to compensate) and MUCH stricter security- I don’t think ESA will bother until something serious happens.

    Eventually, the ESA won’t get enough people in the event (or the event will develop a bad rep) the devs will stop having their demos just at E3- and put them online/ via console shops to play.

    ESA is gonna kill E3 unless they change their ways. Fast.

  • AT-LOW

    REMOVE THE PLEBS

  • chaoguy

    Game Journos like Kotaku & Polygon would love it to be trade & press only – so no one can call them out on their bullshit (and their bad understanding of games).

    People should be allowed to attend- you just need better security and less folk.

  • AT-LOW

    “so no one can call them out on their bullshit”
    That’s why we have Niche Gamer

    REMOVE THE PLEBS

  • Uncle Ocelot

    Well if that baseball shooting is any indication, at least we shouldn’t have to worry about any deaths. These faggots wanna be like ISIS even though the sight of a gun triggers them into a Twitter-PTSD fit.

  • In other words we are safe from our dumbasses….

    In all seriousness though… It is scary that any individual(s) can come and cause a harmful situation. 😓

  • RichardGristle

    That’s exactly the point though. Them and their fanboys ARE the plebs that should be removed lol

  • RichardGristle

    Seems like it’s starting to go to shit, like a city when too many undesirables move in. Listening to your podcast with Alpha and how there were fights and people stealing and scalping gear is gross. I guess that’s what happens. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/88654fe2d9e149d8e12fe514519c8e022b96754fed96efededc6c05f5709e1ac.png

  • Riosine

    You mean like any one could sneak in there, place a noisemaker bottle and the subsequent human stampede would result in several casualities?

    Not being able to properly organize an event security is really concerning

  • No_Good_Names_Ever

    You’re in Sanfran; probably seen as racist to hire protection since security has a lot of connections to cops.

  • No_Good_Names_Ever

    Is that the one where the guy emptied a gun and only barely had any hits?

  • random

    “undesirables” aka other human beings.

  • Psyramics

    Dude got an ambush off, with a rifle, from an elevated position, against stationary targets in an open field and got 0 kills. They were all very lucky the shooter was so incompetent.

  • random

    You could do that anywhere, the only reason people don’t is there’s no real reason to do so, and you would either get caught immediately or soon after.

  • Audie Bakerson

    According to the FBI he tacticooled up his SKS, which would mean it could mount a scope, and apparently just used irons.

    Irons. Across 200-400 yards (depending on where he was shooting from). With the crappy flatness of 7.62×39 I’m frankly surprised he got as many hits as he did.

  • random

    Have you ever been to pax? There’s huge lines there and thousands of people still attend, just because you have no patience doesn’t mean that nobody else does.

  • random

    What motivation would a religious zealot have for blowing up e3 when they could target any city street or sports game and get way more attention? If someone cares enough to do something they will always thwart security. Security also can’t stop fist fights occurring or people asking for freebies, that’s more of a code of conduct thing and even then they will always occur.

  • OSad

    Not to encourage this type of behavior but at least bartender duo put in the Hitman effort, they did their research well to penetrate the event and at no point in time did they attempt to cause any trouble (hell they even did a little bit of work when they took an order to an attendee), though you could say that just being there unauthorized was trouble enough. I wouldn’t turn a blind eye if I were security but I would give them props for doing what they did convincingly and just let them walk out of the venue without reporting it to the police or whatever.

    People trashing each other’s recording equipment and having fistfights over free corporate garbage should get you kicked out of any event under the idea of basic courtesy towards other attendees. That kind of attitude is indeed irredeemable.

  • No_Good_Names_Ever

    “What motivation would a religious zealot have for blowing up e3”
    Games aren’t kosher and would scare the pro Sharia law candy asses away from gaming.

  • SOMEGUY7893 .

    Actually no, in the U.S some of the really extreme Christians are actually extremely anti-video games(Because they’re an implement of the devil to corrupt the youth.) so if one of them lost it they could actually do an attack too.

  • SOMEGUY7893 .

    It technically always wasn’t, because at one point it was invite only.

  • RichardGristle

    Kinda.

  • Riosine

    Anywhere? Nope since It only work in crowded areas and that is the real problem there silly

    lack of order + crowd and even a simple unintentional fire could cause a disaster.

  • No_Good_Names_Ever

    But they’re not bothering with doing anything that big or the news would’ve had it blasted to make Islam look good so the only real things one would have to worry about are explosives, nearly getting grazed, or getting called current year words. I wonder how long until Devs get pushed into going Postal.

  • bgrunge

    If they didn’t do it during the 90’s, with Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell screaming about video games, they won’t do it now.

  • Erthwjim

    I got in back in the 90s as a cable company employee. We were considered interactive entertainment I think (there were a handful of us from the same company). A year or two later they did become more strict though.

  • Fenrir007

    “What motivation would a religious zealot have for blowing up e3”

    Easy to do thanks to lax security, least place people would expect a terrorist to show up, ability to disguise explosive apparatus as cosplay, place completely packed with people huddle together for maximum blast effectivity. And a terrorist attack going off in E3 would make the news worldwide.

  • Himegami Aisa

    Conventions naturally make a soft target, but there’s no reason to go overboard with security because of unlikely disaster scenarios.
    It is a real risk if it’s a sieve, and I’d be concerned about things like theft (heard numerous stories of things from stalls going walkabout) and disruptive/disorderly behaviour (which inevitably occurs when you let tens of thousands of degenerates in with everyone else trying to do their job).

    You think the ESA would step it up given harassment allegations that I recall have occurred a couple of times, but if something that is not only unacceptable but also the hobby horse of many of the attendees doesn’t move them, who knows what would. Well, apart from money, obviously.

  • Uncle Ocelot

    Yeah, the Berniebro.

  • Feniks

    Don’t go to TGS next year some of you are allright.

    -Hifumi Togo liberation front

  • Feniks

    Nobody likes campers.

  • Feniks

    Weird try to sneak in at Barcelona or Caen and you’ll be banned for life.

  • Malascus

    You’d love Gamescom, I’ve regulary seen people fight eachother over loot that they throw out or anime merchandising since they added a whole extra hall for that.

    Gamescom has a few 100k visitors. I think the numbers around 400-500k?, There were absolutely no backpack checking or metal detectors the past few years.

  • 2501

    E3 is no longer about video games, it’s just a cringefest . A convention where companies announce fuck all.

  • Loli ♥ Antagonist

    “I’m not saying a disaster can happen, but it would have been pretty damn easy for someone to sneak a weapon into this year’s E3.”

    Isn’t that exactly what that implies, though? All it takes is one person getting into a crowded area with a gun and a mind to enact their own special brand of justice to cause a news report.

  • Psyramics

    Right. They were lucky he was so incompetent as to try to use iron sights at those ranges when he could’ve mounted a scope.

  • Zepid

    I never had any problem bringing a firearm to PAX or E3. I carry daily though. These sorts of events are the most dangerous place for a human to be and I won’t be just another soft target.

  • Zepid

    Communists believe violence is a reasonable if not essential path to converting a society to their way of thinking. History agrees. Only a person at gunpoint or an insane person would subject themselves to such a system.

  • Scruffy, the Janitor

    So in other words, E3 was closer to what it used to be then?

  • sanic

    This is a trade show right? 2 days go to the press and 1 to the public with heightened security wouldn’t be a bad idea. Also ban kotaku from more than bethsoft stuff if anyone’s important is listening.

  • Kainevil Rc

    I hate that Cancerous site and it’s equally Cancerous Userbase. It’s probably the worst of all Videogame Journalism sites over the Internets. Hideki Kamiya was right.

  • alterku

    I’m ok with time allotted for press only. I’m also ok with it not being open to the public at all. Not every show, especially a press show, is open to the public and for good reason.

  • le master trole

    I’m not surprised at all about those non-journalist people being rude and violent.

    Think about it: who can afford a ticket for hundreds of dollars to see a few new games? Rich, spoiled brats, that’s who.
    People who never heard the word “no” said to them in their life.
    So of course they get buttmad when they dont get their way.

  • le master trole

    He thought it was like in da movies where you can hit a target a mile away with a little handgun.