E3 is a peculiar beast, and comparisons to Christmas certainly work. In one sense it's "the most wonderful time of the year" - you can croon along to that line in your own head - but it's also a stressful nightmare. We may love the festive meals, jolly times and moments of relaxation at the end of the year, but they're bookended by horrendous shopping trips, stress and exhaustion. E3 shares similar traits in that it can invoke excitement and dread in equal measure.
It's creeping up, too. Nintendo may have distracted us with Direct broadcasts and the Humble Nindie Bundle, but the gaping maw of the LA extravaganza looms large. Whether attending or soaking it all in online, we should all prepare for the insanity that is to come.
And silly season is most assuredly here. Just today we received a tip pointing to a text dump attributed to no-one, citing a 'friend' at Nintendo of America that had 'leaked' the entire Nintendo Digital Event script. Of course we read it out of morbid curiosity, but quickly disregarded it as bunkum. Heck, if it is the script to the Digital Event then Nintendo will have truly "jumped the shark", as the company will be defying logic and confusing everyone.
Of course - and we say this with 99.9999999% confidence - the guff we read was fiction. It laced a handful of feasible predictions among some that betrayed absolute madness, with the author clearly hoping that someone will bite. Well, we won't.
Yet part of the fun / horror of E3 is sifting through nonsense and actual rumour, and figuring out what is exciting to share and what's so wrong that it's best ignored. It's tricky for your humble writers, as Nintendo seems to lure in some humdingers in the speculation stakes. The 'leaked script' is a particularly common one. Just this year one such Nintendo Direct 'leak' that was meant to be from within the hallowed walls of Nintendo of Europe detailed - among other things - how the script revealed the new Star Fox as developed by Platinum Games. Yeah, and that was a flying pig dressed as Mario that just flew past our window; of course, it didn't happen.
Again though, there's that seductive blend of semi-truth - Hideki Kamiya has often spoken of his love for the Star Fox series - with fan desires. It's tempting to jump on board the fake hype train every time this happens, but for our collective sanity a sensible level of critical thinking isn't just wise, it's essential.
It's case-by-case, ultimately. When gawking at leaks and rumours there's consideration of the source and context, if possible, and an element of gut instinct. Does it seem real. To take last year's E3, Mario Maker rumours - based on blurry photos from the convention hall - proved true, while Mario Kart 8 Battle Mode DLC was not. We took punts on both and were only right with one, while the TIME leak of Star Fox was undeniably real. We can assure you, though, many 'rumours' were ignored.
Beyond rumours both truthful and fictitious, E3 brings us all a sensory and information overload, culminating in the three days of the event but increasingly bleeding into the days beforehand, too. Our UK-based team was sustained only by dodgy food and caffeine last year, with 20 hour days the norm, and we had the lovely Morgan Sleeper slogging it out in LA. That'll be the case again this year, too, with Morgan being joined by some other hardy souls for Nintendo Life in the expo halls.
It's tiring for all gaming enthusiasts, though, in that wonderful yet maddening way. Whether in the hall or in the giant virtual hall of the internet, developers, publishers and console manufacturers are all screaming for our attention, jumping up and down and waving their arms around. Nintendo truly goes the extra mile nowadays, too, with a major live event, the 'Digital Event' and then hour after hour of live Treehouse demos filling our screens. The big N keeps giving us more, and we love it.
It's going to be a mad two weeks, of that we can be certain. This rambling text was inspired by that bonkers Digital Event 'script', and the realisation that it's just be the beginning. The flood of real and not-quite-real information is approaching, and it's going to be quite a ride making sense of it all.
Prepare yourselves, dear readers, the madness is just beginning. The question is, are you ready?