These are strange days for the Electronic Entertainment Expo. The (ostensibly) trade-only event draws immense attention, but it has long been fraying at the edges. Yet we’re here anyway because this year E3 comes at an auspicious time for technologies that could represent a major change to the industry: virtual and augmented reality.

The consumer release of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, troubled and content-starved as they may be, indicate that VR is no longer a fantasy tech about which wild promises can be made. It’s here, it’s real, and it has a lot to prove, because god damn have people been talking it up for the last few years.

Brian and I will be meeting with both Oculus and HTC (and/or Valve, whoever shows up), as well as game producers and creative types, and asking probing questions about how they plan to follow through on the promise of VR. And of course we’ll be donning the headsets ourselves and looking like fools on camera while checking out the latest experiences, because somebody has to do the hard work around here.

But what about all those games, you ask, those beautiful, beautiful games! Well look, my proposal to pivot TechCrunch to a gaming site got shot down in like 2010 (R.I.P. CrunchArcade), and instead we continued to cover startups and the tech industry in general (look where it got us!). So as much as I’d like to flood the front page with screenshots of “The Last Guardian” and my thoughts on the new “Mass Effect,” we’re going to be looking for the more TechCrunchy stories scattered around the convention center.

For instance, I think the process of developing an indie game is a lot like bootstrapping a small startup. I look forward to speaking with crowdfunding beneficiaries and driven game designers who have had to put their lives into their work with a limited runway just like any Silicon Valley success story.

Brian, for some reason, thinks cheap Android-based set top consoles are going to make a big splash. I look forward to hearing him justify that fantasy! (But there will also be “lots of interesting hardware” in general, he made me add just now.)

And just like everything else these days, the gaming industry runs on tech, and the tech that powers these games and the teams behind them is always changing — and frequently very interesting. Not to mention all that juicy industry chatter you overhear while pretending to work in the press lounge.

Keep a close eye on the site this week: Brian and I will be doing live video while we wander the show floor, talk with strangers, and dilute our troubles with whiskey as soon as they kick us out of the convention center.

Oh also, we get to play the new Zelda. Jelly?

Featured Image: Devin Coldewey / TechCrunch

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TechCrunch is at E3! But why?