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How to E3: Whether or not you attend, there’s a lot to take in

E3 is almost upon us, and with it comes a deluge of announcements, trailers, videos, and more.

This year, for the first time ever, fans are invited to check out the previously industry-only trade show. The Entertainment Software Association — which organizes E3 each year — made 15,000 public tickets available.

So this year, in addition to all of the ways you can interact with E3 at home, you can actually head to the Los Angeles Convention Center and check out scores of unreleased video games. Not to mention the assorted special events happening away from the show floor.

I’ve covered E3 eight times over the past 11 years and it’s still a little overwhelming when I first arrive. For many of you, this will be your first time. Here’s a rundown of what’s happening, when it’s happening, and how you can join in on the fun — whether you’re in LA or watching from the sidelines at home.

Watching from home

The show floor might not open until Tuesday, but as anyone who’s ever experienced E3 will tell you: that’s definitely not when everything starts.

A full lineup of press conferences serves as the prelude to everything, and that’s typically where the biggest announcements happen. In years past, those events played out in a Monday-early Tuesday gauntlet, but that’s no longer the case. Now, there’s a full weekend of happenings leading into the Tuesday kickoff.

Here’s what to look for…

Saturday, June 10

Electronic Arts will hold its EA Play press conference on Saturday, with the stream kicking off at 12 p.m. PT. Find more details right here.

Sunday, June 11

Microsoft’s annual press conference begins at 2 p.m. PT. You can find more info and — come Sunday — watch the event itself right here.

Bethesda Softworks will host a press conference of its own, starting at 9 p.m. PT. You can find more details right here.

Upstart indie label Devolver Digital will hold an E3 "press conference" of its own — the first one ever! — at 10 p.m. PT as part of a "Pre Pre Show" event hosted by Twitch.

Monday, June 12

There’s a PC Gaming Show to start off the day, taking the time slot occupied in years past by Microsoft. The PC Gamer-hosted event kicks off at 10 a.m. PT on Twitch.

Ubisoft is next, with a press conference kicking off at 12:30 p.m. PT. on the publisher’s Twitch channel.

Sony caps off the day with a 6 p.m. PT press conference, and you’ll be able to tune in right here.

Tuesday, June 13

Nintendo stopped doing E3 press conferences a number of years ago, replacing them with streamed Nintendo Direct engagements. This year’s Direct is happening on Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. PT, and you’ll be able to catch it here.

If you’re coming to the show

Fan attendees at E3 2017 have lots to choose from with regards to filling their days. The show itself is obviously the main attraction, but there’s actually stuff to do in the days before it starts.

EA Play Fanfest is the big one. This off-site event — located in Hollywood — offers a chance to see and go hands-on with many of the games EA will be announcing during its Saturday showcase.

Fanfest is happening at the Hollywood Palladium on Saturday (4-8 p.m. PT), Sunday (12-6 p.m. PT), and Monday (12-5 p.m. PT). You can find more info right here.

Additionally, Bethesda is hosting a showcase of its own in the hours leading up to its Sunday evening press conference. The gates for that one open at 6:30 p.m. PT, and attendees will have a chance to check out an assortment of Bethesda titles.

Note, however, that the press conference happens later — meaning you probably shouldn’t expect to try out any unannounced games at the showcase.

Image: bethesda softworks

Microsoft’s pre-show event, called Xbox FanFest, runs from June 11-13. Just like the others, it’s a chance to see firsthand what’s been announced at the show.

Unfortunately, all of these pre-show activities require separate tickets. Even if you bought an E3 badge, you needed to register for either of these separately. There aren’t any tickets left for either, so don’t bother showing up if you don’t have one.

Sony did something a little different. It’s hosting a PlayStation E3 2017 Experience at movie theaters all across the country. You can register for free tickets right here — availability varies by location — if you’re looking for more of a group hang as you watch the big PlayStation announcements. Experience attendees also get some goodies to take home.

On the show floor itself

The E3 show itself kicks off on Tuesday, and the LACC floor is where you’ll go to find most of the hands-on opportunities. There are a few things to keep in mind here, however.

First: show hours. The floor opens on Tuesday at 12 p.m. PT, but the day starts a little earlier — at 10 a.m. PT — on Wednesday and Thursday. If you really want to get inside at the moment the doors open, prepare to line up several hours earlier. I’m not sure exactly when people can start filing in to line up, but give yourself two or three hours if being first inside is important to you.

Also, be aware: E3 can be very crowded. Lines form quickly and move slowly, especially since industry professionals often get to cut to the front on an as-needed basis. You’re not going to see all the biggest games of the show in a single day. You might not even see them all over three days. Prioritize. And don’t forget to pack some snacks and hand sanitizer.

More importantly: be respectful of those around you. If I’ve learned anything over the past decade in this business, it’s that industry folks are a friendly bunch — but many of us also have to work extra-hard to be sociable in crowded spaces.

If you’re getting the sense that someone doesn’t want to chat, don’t get testy. The crush of people can feel overwhelming and the person you’re talking to might be feeling it right then. Just politely extract yourself from the conversation and go on with your day.

And hey, if you’re one of those people who has a rough time with crowds, there’s a place you can go to chill: the AFK Room, hosted by Take This. It’s in meeting room 407.

Speaking of which: HERE IS A MAP OF THE CONVENTION CENTER. Treasure it. You will find it’s very handy.

The show floor is only one facet of E3 2017’s public-friendly events. There’s also the brand new E3 Coliseum, where you’ll be able to catch up-close looks at many of the show’s newly revealed games in a series of hosted panels. Here’s the full schedule, which spans Tuesday and Wednesday.