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What is E3? America's biggest video game event explained

Chris Plante co-founded Polygon in 2012 and is now editor-in-chief. He co-hosts The Besties, is a board member of the Frida Cinema, and created NYU’s first games journalism course.

E3 is a hulking, ever changing beast. It will eat your enthusiasm, digest and then evacuate it as a gross and raw and cynical sludge. But only if you let it. It can also be special, in a monstrous sort of way.

I did my best to explain various components of this marketing machine and put them into the context of the industry as a whole. I don't know if I quite landed on my intended target, but I think I fell close. I couldn't have done even that without the hard work of many great journalists and videographers. This video has a number of clips from years past and I want to use this post to provide proper attribution.

More importantly, I encourage you to take the time to watch these videos. They are like historic relics, as exciting, if not more exciting, that the intensely rehearsed brand presentations that await us at the modern E3. (Watch on Youtube)

A nearly two hour collection of footage from E3 1995, focusing on the Atari Jaguar. Footage of primitive VR headset should tickle skeptics of Oculus Rift.

SEGA's Saturn promotion for E3 1995.

The surprise announcement of PlayStation's $299 price tag, which echoed at last year's PlayStation 4 presser.

GameSetWatch's scans of the E3 1995 show floor.

Footage of the XBAND modem's connection screen.

Microsoft's 2007 press event.

The uncomfortable Activision presser hosted by Jamie Kennedy.

Tony Hawk, Steven Spielberg and James Cameron at E3.

Lightning round:

The drummer from Wii Music, the Nice job, Jeremy moment, the Nintendo Vitality Sensor announcement, the Kinect as skateboard scanner, the bottom of Kudo's foot, the Mortal Kombat 3 stage actors, the Kazuo Hirai RIIIIIDGE RACER scream, and of course, Reggie "My body is ready" special.

And lastly, be sure to watch our E3 predictions for Sony and Microsoft. I've added the Nintendo video below.