Gaming and Activities

The World’s Biggest Video Game Event Is Hitting Los Angeles, and Here’s What to Do About It

Photo courtesy of EA - Electronic Arts/Facebook

Back in grade school, every cool kid knew that summer meant two things: a sudden wealth of free time to devour video games and the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, a colossal trade show that drops the biggest reveals, demos, and overall video game hype of the year. Since 2017, the event has opened its doors to the gaming masses, allowing anyone (anyone 17 and older, at least) to experience this gamers’ paradise when it descends upon the L.A. Convention Center in June. Which thankfully put the days of religiously rewatching TiVo-ed X-Play coverage for juicy show-floor tidbits behind us.

With the spotlight of the gaming universe set squarely on L.A., it’s not just E3 that gamers have to look forward to this month—there are concerts, tournaments, fan events, and gatherings both official and unofficial happening all over town to entertain the droves of controller-happy fans making the city their temporary home. No matter what kind of gamer you are, there’s something to love happening during the industry’s biggest event.

Kingdom Hearts Orchestra Live
This world-class (and world-touring) orchestral rendition of music plus live footage from the Kingdom Hearts video games is an excellent communal way to experience some of the best moments of the series. June 8, 8 p.m.; Dolby Theatre, 6801 Hollywood Boulevard

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Smash Ultimate and Splatoon 2 World Championships + Super Mario Maker 2 Invitational
Nintendo’s modern multiplayer classics excel at game play that is both accessible yet deceptively deep—enough so that their games have fervently competitive scenes. Even if you don’t know what the heck a Meteor Smash is, Nintendo’s appealingly colorful aesthetic and rabid fans will make these events—which include the first official 3v3 world championship for the recently released Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, a Splatoon 2 tourney, and a showcase of the yet-unreleased Super Mario Maker 2—something to behold. Attendance is free, but make sure to line up at or before the 8 a.m. badge distribution time to give yourself the best shot at a spot in the audience. June 8, 11 a.m.; Theatre at Ace Hotel, 929 South Broadway Street

EA PLAY Fan Fest
Under the new mantra “less talk, more play,” EA has opted to forgo a traditional E3 press conference and put together something for the fans instead. Enter EA PLAY Fan Fest, a fan experience where attendees can try out EA’s stable of acclaimed multiplayer games like Apex Legends and Battlefield V, and—most important—get an “inside look” at the hotly anticipated Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Best of all? The whole thing’s free. Like, actually free. Not a single micro-transaction in sight. June 8, 9 a.m.–7 p.m. and June 9, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.; Hollywood Palladium, 6215 Sunset Boulevard

electronic entertainment expo
Photo courtesy of SoCal Retro Gaming Expo/Facebook

SoCal Retro Gaming Swap Meet
E3 isn’t all groundbreaking announcements and cutting-edge releases. It’s also this show, where 8-bit isn’t a dirty word and blowing on the cartridge and sticking it back in always, always works. In addition to the dozens of vendors—which hawk not just all manner of vintage games and consoles, but also game-centric collectibles, crafts, and art—you can get those thumbs a little more active with a swath of free-to-play arcade cabinets and old consoles hooked up to retro CRT televisions, just like they’re meant to be. June 9, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.; Frank & Son Collectible Show, 19649 San Jose Avenue, Industry

Final Fantasy VII Live
Need something to tide you over until the long-gestating Final Fantasy VII Remake finally hits consoles…sometime soonish? Relive the groundbreaking cinematic grandeur of the 1997 original with this live, orchestral rendition of Nobuo Uematsu’s brilliant score, set to video footage of FF7’s most memorable moments. June 9, 6 p.m.; Dolby Theatre, 6801 Hollywood Boulevard

electronic entertainment expo
Photo courtesy of PC Gamer/Facebook

PC Gaming Show
E3 has long felt like the realm of console gamers, from the traditional keynote presentations from hardware trifecta Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft to the overwhelming console presence at the booths. PC Gamer is here to stake out a corner of E3 for the computer faithful with the fifth annual PC Gaming Show, a press conference of game and hardware reveals united not under the banner of a specific company but under the umbrella of all computer gaming. That’s a pretty big deal. This year’s main sponsor is the Epic Games Store, so expect plenty of titles and news from the upstart digital storefront, plus more than a dozen other companies will participate with news of their own. June 10, 10 a.m.; Mayan, 1038 South Hill Street

Digital L.A. Games Summit 2019
Every year, E3 thrusts gaming forward by lifting the veil on the industry’s biggest upcoming titles. The Digital L.A. Games Summit takes a different approach to the future of gaming, opting for insightful panels on the big ideas that will shape gaming for years to come. This year those panels include topical discussions about VR and AR, LGBTQ representation, and esports, plus a not-quite-so-topical (but still sure to be interesting) talk with a trio of game composers. June 10, 6 p.m.–10 p.m.; Cross Campus, 800 Wilshire Boulevard

electronic entertainment expo
Photo courtesy of 8BitLA/Facebook

8bitLA Presents Hack the Multiverse 4.0
Prefer your music lo-fi? This night of good tunes focuses on vintage gaming, whether the performers are playing the classics live or evoking the retro sound with chiptunes (the electronic music niche that uses retro gaming hardware to create tracks that sound like they’re ripped right out of a lost Mega Man game). Some favorites include Trash80 and Here Between You Me, two acts that conjure very different soundscapes by pushing their music through original Game Boy machines. June 11, 7 p.m.–12:30 a.m.; Los Globos, 3040 Sunset Boulevard

electronic entertainment expo
Photo courtesy E3 Expo/Facebook

Pros, amateurs, fans, newbies…anyone even remotely interested in gaming dreams of attending this major convention. This year the show will be without Sony, but there will still be plenty of drool-worthy hands-on experiences and booths from Microsoft, Activision, and more. Note that the much-hyped press conferences are still industry-only, though standard attendees can drop in at the new E3 Coliseum for a lineup of presentations and talks hosted by Geoff Keighley. June 11–13; L.A. Convention Center, 1201 South Figueroa Street

Fortnite Summer Block Party
In case you haven’t looked at a screen recently, battle royale game Fortnite is kind of a big deal right now. Experience the phenomenon in person at this two-day extravaganza, where you can immerse yourself in locations and activities from the game and catch some great matches, like a Pro-Am where dedicated Fortnite streamers will team up with big-name celebs from movies, music, and sports to see which duo will survive. June 15 and 16; The Forum, 3900 West Manchester Boulevard, Inglewood