Games themselves are only part of the story at E3 , the video game industry's yearly gala . To get a real sense of the carnival-like atmosphere at the show, you need to look beyond the carefully coordinated demos and presentations.
The E3 convention is often called a circus – but there are a lot more than three rings. With everything from celebrity cameos to multimillion-dollar booths to scantily dressed models, E3 is a constantly moving, nearly organic being. Capturing all of the show's eccentricities is impossible, but here are a few snapshots of the video game industry's annual party/trade show to give you a taste.
By Chris Morris, Special to CNBC.com
Posted 9 June 2011
There's no purer concentration of hype than E3 – and publishers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars – and in some cases millions – to ensure their booth is memorable to show-goers.
This year, Bethesda Softworks has gone all out, with a giant dragon (pictured left) overseeing its booth as the company shows off its new role-playing game "The Elder Scrolls: Skrim". The booth has been such a draw that models from other booths have snuck over to have their picture taken with the dragon.
Microsoft's counting big on "Gears of War 3" this year, so as people wait for an hour or more to see a short demo of the game, they're funneled past this statue of the game's hero, Marcus Fenix, to build enthusiasm.
You don't have to walk far to find a suggestively or scantily clad model at E3.
Booth models – called "booth babes" by show attendees - are there for one reason: To get people to stop in their tracks, so that the company can lure them in to see a demo of a game. They're incredibly successful.
E3 is about monumental announcements. Publishers unveil their big titles for the year to come and console makers announce new systems here.
Sony and Nintendo both had new game machines to announce this year – and ultimately, those are the headlines that people walk away from the show remembering.
While new franchises are aggressively promoted at E3, stalwarts of the gaming industry are never far away. This enormous Sonic statue sits in the middle of the show floor, watching over the industry as the iconic character celebrates his 20th anniversary.
While most publishers try to capture eyes inside the convention center, every year at least one company tries to make an impression as people walk in and out of the show. This year, it's "World of Tanks," which brought in a Sherman tank as well as a T35/85 Russian tank to promote their game.
There's always at least one game or device at E3 that becomes the "must see" item of the show. This year, it's the just announced Wii U console.
People waited in line for five hours to be among the first to get their hands on the system. It was a close race, though. Some gamers waited four hours to see a preview of EA's "Battlefield 3".
They're not here every year, but enemy soldiers from the Star Wars films have been a semi-regular presence at E3, given how many games have sprung from the Star Wars series.
This year, they've been wandering around the EA booth, where trailers for the upcoming massively multiplayer online game "Star Wars: The Old Republic" play regularly.
E3 is about the future, but invariably at least one booth has a few classic arcade games to remind people of the industry's roots.
This year, there's an actual arcade on the show floor – and for that gamer-centric crowd, the chance to play games like "Asteroids," "Centipede" and "Punch Out" without having to shell out quarters was a strong draw.