E3 2011 Secret Diary: Sunday Part 2

This is why you read RPS.

I’m in America. Have you heard of America? It’s a big country in the Atlantic where the locals ride electronic horses in streets lined with sidewalks. And this week America has turned over all its resources to running the fourth annual E3 County Fair. All the residents are mucking in, helping set up a booth, hand out a leaflet, or wallpaper the side of a skyscraper with an advert for Tekken 2. It’s all go here.

Monday 5th June, 9am:

The show doesn’t start for proper until Tuesday at 12pm PST. But stuff really gets going today, with various conferences from the console owners and a few of the larger publishers. At 12.30pm today (that’s 8pm in RPS Central Time) EA’s conference begins, and I’ll be in there, telling you what’s happening via the complexity of a liveblog. If it works. And let’s face it, it probably won’t. But I’m going to try just so hard. Also, it’s hard to forget to turn up to, since EA just sent an email containing the same paragraph reminder, and I am not making this up, repeated 131 times. I think they’re quite keen that we’re there.

While you may have seen that some spent Sunday being flown around in helicopters to make them like a game, I spent the day in telecom stores having my time wasted at such a rate that the day lasted over 56 hours. One of the things you need if you run a website is internet access. But if you’re from the Old Country the locals really don’t want you getting at it. It’s theirs, and leave off. Which is all the more understandable when you realise that America is covered in a thick blanket of 4G – mobile internet speeds the likes of which you can only dream of. In the UK 3G is a rare treat saved for special occasions, like visiting dignitaries who wish to check on the popularity of their sex tapes. In American 3G is some quaint thing the cowboys used to use. “Aw, three geeeeee,” they said. But it’s theirs, and it’s precious, and they don’t want invading forces getting their hands on it.

The problem is, no one’s told the telecommunication companies. I spent a grand total of two hours standing in a Sprint and a Verizon store, being confidently told they could absolutely sell me a 4G mifi hotspot to allow this week to be possible. They can’t. If you work in a Verizon or Sprint store, please understand that you can’t. Yes, I know, you think you can. But you can’t. What you will do if you’re Sprint is have never heard of selling one without a contract and then make you wait while they try to fix an error when they typed in your date of birth and find out they can’t sell you one without a social security number anyway. I did have the excellent entertainment of someone on the phone trying to run a credit check on me based on my hotel details. There were a LOT of former residents at my address.

Verizon guy laughed when I told him about Sprint and says he does it all the time, before confidently running the mifi through the register, taking $260 of RPS’s hard-earned money, and then discovered that he couldn’t sell me a sim without a social security number. And then discovered that he couldn’t give me a refund, because… because of the mumble mumble something thing. A colleague scolded him in whispers for how he’d put it through the till incorrectly, before I was informed that their refund network was down. Huh? But I can get the money back if I “send you assistant back tomorrow.” My assistant! RPS is doing better, but not quite that well. No amount of explaining that I don’t have time to come back worked, and I’m still waiting for a call to confirm that the sale was voided. Hey, Verizon – good work!

In the end friend of RPS, Ellen, like some sort of superhero saved the day at the very last second by getting a Virgin Mifi from Best Buy, which requires no complex contract avoidance or ridiculous fees. It’s but 3G, but that’s what we Brits are allowed, and so RPS says: get your internet dongle solutions from Virgin and Best Buy. They’re the best buy. And virgins.

Now if the bloody thing doesn’t work this week I will scream so loudly that every window in the Americas shatters, as I transform into a 300ft monster that destroys every city. It’s the only reasonable response at this point. Also, wedding clothes: I bought one shirt. Utter failure. This September I’m getting married in a shirt. and nothing else.

What, Gamespot are running a live stream of the entire E3 with correspondents and exclusives, interviews and free gold for every viewer? Well I’m writing to tell you that my feet hurt and there’s a spot on the inside of my leg that is making walking already awful. THAT IS WHY YOUR READ RPS.

Tune in at 12pm (8pm RCT) for what should be the beginnings of my EA liveblog, or at least an apology from Jim and the sound of downtown LA being smashed to bits by a monster wearing a Phillies cap.

Part 1


  1. Mike says:

    $260? Seriously? That is insane. I can’t believe they didn’t sort that out then and there.

  2. phosgene says:

    You so funny.

    Oh how we laughed and laughed.

  3. RQH says:

    Go Phillies!

  4. skinlo says:


  5. kalidanthepalidan says:

    Just a shirt? Hot.

  6. Torgen says:

    Verizon literally put my old boss in the hospital with a heart attack, over their overbilling EVERY month. Sometimes it is $300, sometimes $800, never the same amount two times in a row. Oh, and they have NO customer service. This is not hyperbole, there is no phone number for customer service. So, my poor boss would go down to the local office, where NO one, not even the manager, had “authority” to do jack squat about overages or customer complaints, and yelled until his heart literally gave out.

    • bwion says:

      Verizon used to be my landline provider.

      One day, I came home to find that a truck had taken down a phone line on my street, and torn the junction box or whatever completely away from the house. Their response to a phone line lying in the middle of the road in a residential neighborhood was “Oh, we’ll deal with it in a couple of days”.

    • dsch says:

      I had a great time trying to convince Verizon that I was a person, not a business. In the end, we agreed that I was a business.

  7. tikey says:

    This is why I read RPS

  8. RP says:

    But is it a really nice shirt?

  9. TychoCelchuuu says:

    Well, the important thing is that you’re having a good time.

  10. Tams80 says:

    <3. That is all.

  11. BobsLawnService says:

    “I think they’re quite keen that we’re there.”

    And so they should be.

  12. McDan says:

    Sounds like you’re having a grand old time!

  13. Targaff says:

    The SSN thing is bollocks, by the way. I still haven’t given mine to any telecoms company here.

  14. 8-bit says:

    Reading this my ignorance of the mobile internets and phones in general hit me hard, I literally have no idea what you were talking about for over half of what you wrote. 4 and 3Gees, mifi, telecommunication, Amereca, all strange terms from a world I know nothing of and therefore never have to worry about.

  15. goodgimp says:

    Too funny, hope the rest of your trip is smoother sailing!

  16. The Army of None says:

    “This September I’m getting married in a shirt. and nothing else.”

    Oh my yes.

  17. Ridiculous Human says:

    John’s story of telecom misery was substantially more interesting than the story of journalists being taken by helicopter to a mysterious island cinema and being serenaded by an opera singer as reported on *RIVAL WEBSITE*. This just goes to show something, although I’m sure I don’t know what.

  18. meatshit says:

    Now you see why us Americans love the free market so much. You can choose from so many wonderful and different ways of being fucked over.

  19. Keith Nemitz says:

    If you find America so oppressively advanced, then I warn you. Never visit Japan.

  20. frenchy2k1 says:

    Registered just to tell you that you DO have options outside of the big providers.
    You CAN have your 4G (and eat it too) in the form of MetroPCS.
    Not the fastest network, but cheap, not SSN required, no contract required. Walk in, pay and walk out with 4G.

    • adonf says:

      Yeah but PCS is a US-only wireless phone protocol. The only standard in Europe is GSM. If John brought his own GSM hardware (USB adapter or laptop) it’s not going to work with it.

      Oh wait, he bought an internet dongle at Best Buy. Still, he wouldn’t be able to use a PCS dongle back in the UK.

  21. daf says:

    Every time there’s an article on /. about mobile networks there’s numerous comments from fellow geeks about how American mobile networks have spoty coverage, low speeds, ridiculous locked in contracts and the usual incompetent staff, seems holds true from what you experienced there :(

  22. Ezhar says:

    But Gamespot is nowhere near as entertaining. We appreciate the suffering you endure for us and may even donate some wedding underpants (used).

    • RYNOBIG says:

      So, are these underpants you offer used or specifically used during a wedding? Furthermore, were they used by someone notable in the wedding party, i.e. groom or by uncle Cletus? Those details are clearly important for the proper IRS valuation of the charitable gift.

  23. papabear says:

    Go easy on yourself Mr. Walker Sir, we can always read Gamespot.