E3 Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center attracts thousands each year.

Story and Photos by Kathleen Gasperini and Tom Wallace

E3 Expo June 7-9 hosted at the LA Convention Center in downtown Los Angeles proved yet again the intense popularity of video gaming among core players and industry experts as thousands gathered to demo the latest products. The halls were so packed on the first day that it was difficult to move from one area to the next.

Yet ironically, just a week after E3 ended, NDP reported that video game sales for May were down 19%–the lowest it’s been since 2006. There are a lot of reasons for this, including the lighter schedule of releases this year, and for Nintendo, in particular, lower sales for Wii. However if the Nintendo booth at E3 is any indication, with the release of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, it could significantly help the company with fans eagerly waiting to buy it.

Glee karaoke dancers demo-ing a game.

The big winner for last month in gaming was from Rockstar Games and LA Noire topping the charts. LA Noire ads and characters were everywhere it seemed within the convention halls, with characters and signs in several locations, indicating it’s high on the radar for the industry.

Other interesting news from E3 included Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Kinect with voice-enabled Kinect commands which debuted at a press conference before the show. In popular demand on site were Activisions’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Tomb Raider, the prequel, which had more guys than girls hoping to be the latest to play Lara Croft, and EA’s Mass Effect 3, the last segment of the sci-fi role-playing sequence.

Square Enix’s popular Final Fantasy series was another highlight of the show, with news about Final Fantasy XIII-2, scheduled to be released early next year featuring a new combat system and storyline with another rival for Lightning. Scores of people watched the preview which whips you into an entirely other world in seconds.

Nintendo booth was enormous as many are in gaming costing sometimes into the millions to exhibit.

Sony was still feeling the bitter effects of the recent breach found in April of some 77 million Playstation Network systems’ users personal data having been taken, and shutting PSN for a time. Players were extremely upset that Sony did not admit the problem until days later, when Patrick Seybold, the senior director of communications posted on their blog and social media sites that yes, and “external intrusion” had taken place. The problems are still being dealt with, including having to re-program new passwords, among other issues.

Sony’s Playstation Vita, their latest handheld gaming device, had droves of people waiting in line to check it out. The Vita allows gamers to play against each other with its Wi-Fin enabled capabilities and includes super-sharp displays.

New Wii had bodyguards all around this table. Untouchable until the official demo was launched.

Other highlights to the show were the Video Gaming History Museum featuring old-school gaming platforms, marketing materials, and devices, and Into the Pixel art show featuring the amazing artwork of some of the top designers in gaming.

Finally, the show itself makes for excellent people-watching as many come dressed as their favorite characters, similar to Anime Expo. Booths also feature dramatic staging, mood lighting, beautiful booth babes or costumed characters, and other enticements that add to the experience like you’re walking right into a game.

In costume.

New stats from ESA also indicate the power of gaming in general, with an estimated $25.1 billion in consumer spending in 2010. Other stats to note include:

Top video games overall: Call of Duty: Black Ops, Madden NFL 11, Halo: Reach; New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and Red Dead Redemption (see also Label Networks’ Spring and Summer Youth Culture Studies for top preferred games among 13-25-year-olds, systems, and changes among youth culture).
21% of game played most often are Action, Sports, Strategy, and Role-Playing
55% of gamers now play games on their phones
Average age of gamers is 37 years old (as we have noted, it’s not young, which is why knowing the differences among youth culture gamers is of vital importance in terms of the future of the industry)


Pirates of the Carribean games in big demand, but also the artwork was featured in the Into the Pixel exhibition.

Massive crowds on the first day of E3 Expo.

Dudes lined-up to demo new gaming features.

Massive props bring attendees into different video gaming worlds.

Dancing Wii players.

Gear of War 3.

Girl gamers make up 42% of overall gamers.

Into the Pixel artwork.

Old-school Nintendo in the Video Gaming History Museum.

PSP featured.

Two-story Playstation booth.

Xbox booth included changing mood lighting.

Udraw was pretty cool. Lots of people demo-ing to see how they could create gaming artwork.

Target’s own area.

UFC fighter posing with booth babes.