It's hard to impart the true flavor of the E For All Expo without mentioning some of the non-stop goofiness that the vendors undertake in order to attract the fickle attention of the young and young-at-heart audience.
Weird stuff happens here, without much explanation. For example, on the first day of the conference, folks dressed in what looked like Hazmat suits went up on an elevated stage and started rapping (not very well, I'm sorry to say).
It can even get annoying: on Friday, Warhammer Online senior designer Josh Drescher was trying to explain some of the complex technical cat-and-mouse he's undertaken with the hackers who've figured out how to cheat in massively-multiplayer online role playing games like his, but he kept losing his train of thought because of the bagpipes and drum band blasting away on a stage nearby. And how do they expect a person to get any serious gaming in with all this racket in the background, anyway?
But in general, the booths are a lot of fun, sort of like Disneyland for video game nerds. I had the chance to say hello to Ms. Pac-Man as well as an animal-skin clad couple who were promoting the latest version of Sid Meier's Civilization.
And then there were the celebrity guests. With all due respect to professional athletes Derek Fisher and Corey Maggette, and Fatal1ty, the "cyberathlete," or professional video game player, who had his own booth and delivered a speech about the state of his sport, if anyone at the Expo had an electric presence approaching that of a rock star, it was a game designer, not a player.
I'm talking about Koji Igarashi, producer of the Castlevania series. Fans were lined up about 100 deep Friday afternoon, snaking all the way around the Konami booth, for a chance to meet the man who had given them so many hours of thrills and chills. Could "video game star" be a term that we now need?
Also worth mentioning is the impossible-to-ignore green screen booth, blasting the latest ad jingle about once a minute as brave souls danced around wildly in order to have a custom Core 2 Duo commercial made and presented to take home on a thumb drive. I got out there on the green myself, dear reader, because I knew how much the Internet would enjoy my gangly, frenetic attempts at dancing -- but when I arrived home, I discovered that the techs had accidentally given me a thumb drive holding a demo for a Sony Ericsson phone instead. So much for Intel inside.
Disappointing, I know, but perhaps fortuitous in terms of preserving my dignity. So you'll have to settle for images of some of the other attendees, good sports all. Enjoy.--Andrew Rosenblum