Fun at E3

by

Scott McGrew I spent last week at E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Otherwise known as the video game show. It’s where video game developers, hardware developers and retail buyers get together to see what will be available for sale in the coming months.

It’s also, as you might imagine, a great deal of fun. E3 is held at the Los Angeles Convention center and it’s just enormous. Microsoft’s booth on the show floor, for instance, was two stories tall and encompassed 45,000 square feet. 60,000 people attended this year’s show. Much like the Indianapolis 500 (I’ve been 20 times), you really have to see it to understand the scope of it.
I’ve been covering E3 for eight years now. In fact, I was one of the first television reporters to ever attend. These days, of course, it’s covered by the BBC, CNN and all kinds of other outfits, including dotcom gaming sites. Gamespot, an online news agency, put its newsroom in a space it rented right in the middle of the show floor. Its reporters had deadlines measured in minutes. A game company would announce a product and they’d have it on the web just moments later. It makes me glad I’m not a dotcom reporter.

This year, I did not see any games that took my breath away. Most are sequels to previous games. I did, however, come away with two impressions. First, the “next gen” game machines like Playstation3 and the (already available) Xbox360 have really great graphics. I’m not sure, though, that either machine really pushes the industry forward very much. Nice pictures are fun to look at, but are they worth -in the case of Playstation3- a $600 upgrade?

The second thing worth mentioning is the Nintendo Wii, pronounced “wee.” As you may know, it features a cordless controller that senses how you move. So, when you play tennis, you move it like a tennis racket. In a shooting game, you point it at the screen like a gun. It works like a charm.

Combine its expected low price (there’s talk of $200-$250), its sleek look and the wonder-wireless controllers, and you have a neat little device. My only hesitation: I wonder, after a long day at work or school, whether people would like to plop on the couch and play with a traditional controller, or spring up and jump around playing tennis with a wireless “racket”? I know which I would choose.

Scott McGrew
NBC11 Business & Tech Reporter

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