SAN FRANCISCO--Aside from camping out for consoles on launch day or the rare massive LAN party, gamers rarely congregate face-to-face. However, when a convention hall is rented out, filled with the newest games and hardware, and accompanied by some of the Bay Area's best musical acts, gamers huddle by the thousands.
To the delight of gamers, The Games and Music Experience, G.A.M.E., opened its doors today in the City's vast Moscone Center convention hall. The event, hosted by GameSpot, is designed to give gamers hands-on time with the latest releases in the gaming industry as well as exposure to some of the area's up-and-coming and established musical acts.
For gamers, hundreds of stations are set up to demo today's greatest hits, including more than a dozen Xbox 360 titles, tomorrow's blockbusters such as The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and some old classics for good measure. The show floor features just about any system a gamer could want, from the most recent handhelds to today's current-generation systems to the recently released Xbox 360.
Attendance was steady all night, as packs of the golden demographic, gamers ages 18-34, streamed through the front doors. G.A.M.E. isn't for the faint of heart, as enough stimuli was packed into the hall to draw comparisons to a mini-E3. In addition to the hundreds of gaming systems available for public use, other happenings drew plenty of attention.
GameSpot Live took over the center of the floor to do what it does best--providing live coverage of the event for gamers who couldn't make the trip. Producers invited audience members on to the stage to battle GameSpot editors in games, held tournaments for a variety of prizes, including a tricked-out GameSpot Scion replete with a plasma screen and game consoles, and talked with game developers about their titles.
But it wasn't just about games. A main stage featured DJs and bands performing half-hour sets of tunes for audiophiles, taiko drummers performed a traditional (and loud) demonstration of the Japanese art, and 20th Century Fox gave free screenings of Grandma's Boy, a comedy from Adam Sandler's production company scheduled for release next year.
Most gamers spent their time huddled around the new Xbox 360s, getting some hands-on time with Microsoft's next-generation console. No matter what the game, it was rare to see a white controller without a pair of hands on it. Dead or Alive 4, which hasn't yet hit store shelves, appeared to be the main draw, and gamers button-mashed through round after round of one-on-one fighting.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Star Wars: Empire at War used their wildly popular brand names to keep their stations constantly occupied as well. Both games will be released in 2006.
The floor is divided by genre, allowing fans of sci-fi, war, and sports games to jump from game to game without trudging from one end of the hall to the other. The format is also handy to compare like games to each other, making that crucial purchasing decision all the more easy.
GameSpot readers will also have a chance to meet their favorite GameSpot editors, who will be present on the show floor for the duration of G.A.M.E.
G.A.M.E. continues through Sunday, and there are plenty more events going down. In addition to the wealth of playable games, musical acts Meat Beat Manifesto, Hieroglyphics, and J-Boogie's Dubtronic Science will be getting their groove on throughout the weekend.
For more information on the event, check out G.A.M.E.'s official Web site.