Summer Game Fest 2024 was the biggest iteration of Geoff Keighley’s E3 replacement yet. We saw a ton of incredible trailers During the Friday livestream, and developers, journalists, and content creators were able to go hands-on with upcoming games like Star Wars: Outlaws, Flintlock, STALKER 2, and more. As someone who attended SGF both this year and last, it was clear the Play Days campus was much more expansive and the facilities far more impressive, but there was one stand-out that everyone agreed on: Trooper the dog.

On the first day, moments after settling into a seat at one of the outdoor workstations, a tiny, tan-and-white dog trotted past me, his every step a perfect little bounce. He had no leash, but was wearing a Summer Game Fest collar and followed dutifully behind a tan gentleman with long, surfer-blonde hair, always just a few steps behind him.

Every person walking through the space stopped and paused when they saw this good boy, momentarily taken back by the unexpected attendee. Some just did a double-take, others cooed with delight, while several people stopped to pet him. He accepted every pat with a sort of serene look on his tiny little face.

Many called him the mascot of Summer Game Fest, while others wondered what his story was. After petting and baby-talking Trooper for most of the weekend, I asked his owner if he’d chat with me briefly for a story.

Photo: Alyssa Mercante

Trooper is a 12-year-old rescue mutt, a Jack Russell Terrier and chihuahua mix whose owner, Sean (a yoga instructor and was part of the design team at Summer Game Fest), adopted him from a New York City shelter when the dog was about three. Sean was volunteering as a dog walker at a local shelter, and Trooper had recently been hit by a car and brought in as a stray. “We went for a walk and he told me that we were going home,” Sean says as the two of us stand under the shade of a tree. Trooper is lying several feet away, sleeping in a sun spot.

“They named him Roadrunner at the shelter, and I was like, we can’t call him that, that was the most traumatic experience of his life. So I was talking to him about names, we were just chatting, and I said ‘you’re such a soldier’ ​​and his little ears shot up. So that’s his name,” Sean explains.

“I have es such a Trooper,” I coo, and watch as his ears twitch with acknowledgment.

Sean continues. “We spent about a year in the city—I do n’t really believe in obedience training—learning trust together… and then after that year I started him off-leash, seeing what his boundaries were, and he just stayed “next to me.”

Trooper walking behind Sean at Summer Game Fest.

Photo: Alyssa Mercante

Sean works in theater and film as well, so Trooper has been trotting behind him in Broadway theaters and on film sets for the last nine years (yes, he’s met famous people). “I also teach yoga and meditation so he goes with me to all the classes. “He loves sound baths.”

I ask how Sean feels about all the reactions to Trooper (several people stop as we’re talking to pet his extra-warm fur). “It makes me so happy. I think anytime that we can bring a little bit of joy and happiness to people’s lives no matter what it is, that’s the whole point of being alive. “That he can do that for others, that makes me really happy,” Sean says, smiling serenely. It’s very clear where Trooper gets his vibes from.

When I tell Sean that Trooper’s being referred to as the mascot of Summer Game Fest, he laughs. “Summer Trooper Fest,” he suggests. “We were walking around at one point and the president of Xbox, Phil Spencer, came out of a building and he immediately just got down and started petting him. “We have this amazing picture of it.”

“I think it’s important, this work is people’s lives, but to get out of a screen and get back into your body is important. “Trooper’s whole role is to ground.”

Thank you for the moments of zen this weekend, Troop.