I travel light when I travel to E3 and I travel light when I return home. People are under the impression that it's one ginormous swagfest for anyone fortunate enough to attend, and I do see a fair amount of those ridiculous bags you see at cons, the ones that stretch armpit to calf, stuffed with posters and freebies. But very little of what's handed out has much value beyond a t-shirt to wear to the gym or a thumb drive to carry
porn important documents when you're working remotely.
Sometimes you do come home with something that makes itself useful and hangs around for a while. Last year I got two great pieces of swag.
For example, this Cooking Mama 4: Kitchen Magic oven mitt. About three weeks before E3 I'd set my last oven mitt on fire by accident, tossing it onto a hot eye on the range I'd forgotten to turn off. I'd been pulling Hot Pockets out of the oven with wetted paper towels before I was given this mitt by a giant-headed Cooking Mama mascot. Thank you, Majesco!
Or a fake can of shaving cream that you use to hide your valuables until a burglar comes to your home looking to steal your toiletries. That was given out by Telltale Games as an homage to Jurassic Park, and Nedry's means of smuggling out the dinosaur DNA. I stash all of my gold and valuables in here and then put it in the freezer to double-fool the robbers.
On the flight back, I was certain some TSA nimrod was going to pull it out of my bag and yell at me for having a container larger than the maximum allowable size. But they waved it on through. It came with a USB thumb drive on a keychain, and that's also proven very useful, as I never have to remember to pack one before I fly.
Not that I'm ever lacking for thumb drives at E3. They should just have them at the doors in a dish, like the suckers you got when you went down to the bank with your mom. Do they still do that? Anyway, I have about 37 of them in a desk drawer, including one with Madden NFL 11 screenshots still on it.
I pinged my colleagues for their least useless E3 crap and didn't get much of a response, convincing me that, yes, much of what's spent on tchotchkes down there goes into a hotel trashcan.
Luke is our writer in Australia but he did make it to E3 2009—the only one I haven't attended in my tenure here. Luke's physical existence, actually, is unconfirmed to me. He could be an AI, like President Eden in Fallout 3.
"I got a Halo 3 ODST controller in 2009 that's been my primary pad ever since. Got a real nice 'rough' texture that feels great."
I'll allow Tokyo Game Show swag for this post as Brian is based in Japan, though I did see him at E3 2008 and 2010.
"I got a Fist of the North Star alarm clock back at the 2010 Tokyo Game Show, I think. When I got back I gave it to my eldest son, who woke up to the sound of Ken unleashing an attack. I'm not sure where it is now, but he did get some use of it."