Introducing the new E3

by Erin Bell, special to CBCNews.ca

The Electronic Entertainment Expo is dead. Long live the E3 Media and Business Summit.

When the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) announced last year that it was cancelling E3 – at least in its present form – many people weren't sad to see it go. The annual video game industry trade show, where companies made major announcements and outlined strategies for the rest of the year, and which attracted thousands of attendees from around the world, had grown too big for its own good.

By the end of E3's 11-year run, game publishers had grown to resent spending millions of dollars on bombastic demo kiosks and press conferences. The show floor had become so loud and crowded that it was hard to get any real work done, and the infamous scantily clad booth babes that companies used to hock product did nothing to offset the stereotype that games were mindless throwaway entertainment targeted to adolescent fanboys.

This year, the ESA is offering a toned down, renamed and revamped conference running July 11 to 13 in Santa Monica. Instead of the booming laser light show at the Los Angeles Convention Center, companies are hosting private meetings in a cluster of beach-side hotel suites.

The average game player is 33, according to statistics published by the Electronic Software Association (ESA). The fastest-growing demographic of player is women over 40. The industry is making a conscious effort to attract more females into game development. As video games continue to come of age, it seems fitting that the conference designed to celebrate their existence is trying to grow up as well.

Erin Bell is a Toronto-based freelance video game and technology journalist, and is reporting on her fourth E3.