Greetings from the E for All gaming show

I’m in Los Angeles this week for the first E for All Expo, which kicks off Thursday and runs through the weekend. This is expo is specifically for video game enthusiasts—gamers of all stripes, whether they’re casual gamers or the hardest of the hardcore.

This is a very different show than E3 Expos, which are geared toward the industry itself—game publishers and developers talking with the press, with buyers and with others who influence what gamers buy. This event is for the people—for gamers themselves. And the events that are lined up this week demonstrate that.

E for All Expo is emphasizing gamer participation in the events happening in and around the convention. There are competitions—everything from a cosplay event (that’s when you dress up like your favorite game characters) to a “Video Games Live” concert where a full symphony orchestra and choir will recreate some of the best-known music from video games, complete with a light show and performers. Think Cirque du Soleil for gamers. I know, it might sound a bit nerdy, but it’s really cool. Another thing I’m looking forward to is the “Into the Pixel” exhibit, which shows off artwork created by the artists who make games, some of whom have incredible talent.

There are more than 70 exhibitors at the event this year. Frankly, that’s a far cry from E3 Expos of old, where every corner of the Los Angeles Convention Center was crammed with game companies struggling to get the word out about themselves and their products. But it’s still a good showing for a convention in its first year, and a solid first step; hopefully it’s something for the show to build on.

Companies that are showing this year include many faces that will be familiar either directly or indirectly to Mac users. Electronic Arts (EA), for example, is showing off new stuff, along with Activision, 2K Games, game controller maker CH Products, Konami, Intel, Nintendo, THQ, Treychair and many others.

Notable absentees include Sony and Microsoft. It’s a shame that two of the biggest names in consoles right now couldn’t commit to the show. Hopefully they’ll fix that next year.

There’s an absence of Mac-specific game companies at the show, but Mac gamers can still take heart, because games coming to the Mac will be represented. Activision’s making a big push with Guitar Hero III, for example, which should hit Mac store shelves in time for Christmas, thanks to the efforts of Aspyr Media. Some of the peripheral makers are platform-agnostic, too—like CH Products, for example, and Wolfking, makers of really unusual and cool game keyboards that I’ll be reviewing in the coming weeks.

There’s also plenty of stuff that’s of general interest to gamers of all stripes, Mac, PC and console alike. The Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) will be on hand—that’s a non-profit organization that represents gamers in matters of legislation and other high-profile issues. There are a few colleges on hand that offer training specifically for people who want to become game designers and producers. That’s a burgeoning trend that’s sure to catch fire as time goes on.

I’ll have more to report as the week goes on—I hope you’ll stick with us for all the details.

An earlier version of this blog post mentioned Civilzation: Revolution. Unfortunately, that will be a console-only game—I regret the error.

[ E for All creator IDG World Expo and Macworld publisher Mac Publishing are both owned by International Data Group (IDG). ]

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