E for All draws estimated 18,000

E for All Expo, the gamer’s expo that’s been taking place in Los Angeles, Calif. since Thursday, drew an estimated 18,000 gamers, according to show organizers, who declared the event a success.

The event is a far cry from past E3 Expo events, but organizers and show exhibitors are careful not to compare the two. While E3 Expo was mainly focused on attracting the attention of industry buyers and top-tier media, E for All — an entirely new event created by IDG World Expo — has, from the start, been focused on attracting the interest of gamers themselves: hence the name of the show, “Entertainment for All.”

It was that direct hands on experience that drew gamers like Steve Cotton, who traveled half-way across the country from Ohio to visit the first E for All. Cotton participated in retailer Target’s Guitar Hero II championships on the show floor, and for his efforts was rewarded with a Guitar Hero III demo kit — an early opportunity to play the game which won’t be out in stores until Oct. 28.

More than 70 exhibitors occupied space in the South Hall of the L.A. Convention Center this week, including Nintendo, Namco, Konami, EA, THQ, HP, 2K Games and many others. Gamers got an opportunity to get their hands on with the latest games, including Super Smash Bros. Brawl, a new Nintendo Wii game whose release date recently got pushed back to February, 2008. Watching demos of that game pulled in big crowds to Nintendo’s booth, and the chance to actually play it created lines that wrapped around Play ‘n’ Trade’s smaller booth. Another booth that had long lines at it was Konami, demonstrating Metal Gear Solid 4, a new installment of the long-running console stealth action shooter.

The show’s coordinators were pleased with the turnout, and have already planned to repeat the event next year — often, first-year gaming shows turn out only a dozen vendors and a fraction of the number of visitors that E for All has generated.

Besides game companies, Major League Gaming occupied a significant chunk of the South Hall’s rear area, complete with LAN competitions and 4v4 play of various games including Halo CE and Shadowrun, as well as a championship stage. Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel, a high-profile professional gamer, was also on hand, offering advice to aspiring pro gamers in the Gamer’s Lounge and showing off his own line of branded gamer’s hardware.

Macs were absent from the show floor, although Intel and HP capitalized on gamer interest by setting up large booths chock-full of the latest gaming hardware. HP emphasized its new Blackbird 002, a desktop PC designed to appeal specifically to gamers, along with the company’s recently acquired VoodooPC brand, a manufacturer of custom gaming PC hardware.

IDG World Expo and Macworld publisher Mac Publishing are both owned by International Data Group (IDG).

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