E3 2017 included 15,000 fans who purchased tickets, and the resulting crush of people changed the character of the show, for better or worse. One of the more concerning aspects of the new show, to some, was the lack of security.
“For every single day of the event, which was secured by private security contractors, I’ve tried to walk into the building from the street outside to the showfloor without wearing my badge,” developer Rami Ismail stated in a blog post. “I succeeded every single time, over the period of three days, and every time I was carrying a backpack that was never checked for its contents. It would be trivial for someone to bring any sort of weapon to the event, and security would not be able to react fast enough in the hall to prevent anything from happening.”
Two men also posted about their success in allegedly sneaking into the show without a pass, noting how simple the process was.
“After showing up to the LA Expo center downtown (and searching for parking for 30min, we should have Uber'd) We found that going through the garage was the best point of entry,” they wrote. “The guard asked us what we were doing, so we told them we were temp hires, we didn't have much information, and we were late to get to the Galaxy Lounge in the West Hall. He let us through and immediately we were shocked, but we kept our cool and walked into the convention with confidence.”
Comments about the lack of security were common on social media as well.
Fears about security aren’t unreasonable, as a heavily armed man was recently arrested at Phoenix Comicon. “Newly released records outline the arsenal Mathew Sterling had been carrying when he was arrested: two 45-caliber handguns, a .454-caliber handgun, and a 12-gauge shotgun, all fully loaded; a combat knife; pepper spray; and throwing stars,” a news report stated.
The Entertainment Software Association is the company that runs E3, and they feel confident of the event’s security.
“Exhibitor and attendee safety is the paramount concern for ESA when it comes to E3,” the ESA’s Dan Hewitt told Polygon. “This was my 14th E3 and as ESA's Vice President for Media and Events, I can tell you from years of experience that it is always top of mind for the E3 team. This event was a success when it comes to security. There were more than 68,000 people in the convention center and minimal issues. This was due entirely to outstanding fans, well-trained guards and personnel, and excellent communication with our members and exhibitors.”
The ESA listed some of the security measures in place in an email to Polygon:
This year we provided updates before E3 to our member and exhibitors about the extensive security policies and protocols we put into place to help ensure safety;
Our policies and procedures were developed not just with our 24 years of experience running E3, but also based on expert feedback and direction from security experts--both on our team and externally who reviewed and advised us on our plans;
We partner with IRL, which runs multiple events, including Anime at the convention center, and they cumulatively have hundreds of years of experience in providing top management and experience in this area;
ESA undertook very visible measures, including uniformed personnel from LAPD in both halls, as well as our own E3 security team
We brought in multiple K-9 units with trained sniffing dogs this year to help ensure attendee safety.
E3 2017 did open, operate and close safely after three days without incident, even as those testing its security found ways to slip through. All this means the first public E3 was a learning experience for everyone, and the show is sure to continue to evolve and grow, and that includes the measures taken to ensure safety.