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Amidst all of the major video game announcements, theater trailer screenings and hands-on demonstrations, one of the aspects of E3 2017 generating the most buzz following the show was the on-site security. In short, many felt it was far too lax.
All told, 68,000 folks crammed into the Los Angeles Convention Center last week for E3 2017, 15,000 of which were paying members of the public, a first for the annual video games trade show. Whether or not you felt like all of those extra bodies were a positive new direction for the show, it seems like many agree that security was not up to snuff this year.
Over on Polygon, they had a chat with Entertainment Software Association's VP for Media and Events Dan Hewitt. The ESA is responsible for putting on E3 each year and hires third-party security agencies to man the show floor. According to Hewitt, security is always "top of mind" for E3 staff and he feels that this year's event was a success due to "outstanding fans, well-trained guards and personnel and excellent communication."
To be clear, there were no major issues reported at E3 2017 but, based on social media chatter and the like, it sounds like many attendees were concerned. Most folks go to E3 to check out the latest Call of Duty or Mario game, but it's a sad fact that in modern times, such an event could be a prime target for those wanting to do harm.
The original report brings up an alleged instance documented online of two guys managing to get into the show without credentials while meeting minimal resistance. In a blog post, developer Rami Ismail claims they were able to get into the show three days running while not wearing their badge. There were no metal detectors or bag checks and E3 2017 saw a lot of people crammed into the two show halls of the LA Convention Center and surrounding areas. Each main entrance had officials checking badges but, due to folks leaving through the wrong doors and giving other individuals an opportunity to slip in, it's clear that some folks got through without going through the proper channels. On the last day of the show, I noticed a pair of K-9 units near the entrance of the West Hall, but that was the only "heightened security" that popped up on my personal radar.
In the Polygon post, they bring up the recent incident at Phoenix Comicon as an example of why many felt security needed to be heightened at E3 this year. In that instance, a man managed to bypass convention security carrying multiple loaded weapons. He was later detained with no incident, but it had an instant impact on the event. I was actually in attendance and the following days saw anyone entering and leaving the convention needing to submit to a bag check and a trip through a metal detector. All prop weapons were also banned from the show as an added precaution.
This has certainly given folks a lot to think about and, thankfully, the ESA has a year to plan for next year's show. We'll be interested to see if the ongoing conversation results in more strict security measures. Nobody likes waiting in lines to have their bags checked, but we feel it's usually worth it for that added degree of security.