SAN FRANCISCO--For years, the Game Developers Conference was the smarter little brother to the Electronic Entertainment Expo. From its onset, the event was engineered to bring together the often-unbelievably intelligent and artistic people who make gamesto exchange ideas and best practices to further hone their craft. As such, it was never meant for public consumption, but rather tailor-made to the industry's cognoscenti and illuminati.
The E3/GDC dichotomy changed in late 2006, however, when the Entertainment Software Association announced they were scaling down E3 from a 60,000-person neon spectacle to a 5,000-person insider trade summit. A few months earlier, GDC organizers CMP Media (now called Think Services) announced that its last show's attendance had topped 18,000 people, and it was permanently relocating from San Francisco's Moscone Center because it had simply outgrown San Jose's convention center.
Though E3 2009 is being touted as a 40,000-strong return to the eSturm and iDrang of the past, for now, GDC is the biggest game-industry event in the US. (The largest public event is the Penny Arcade Expo, with over 58,000 tickets sold.) It remains, however, geared towards game professionals. As such, the show floor isn't nearly as flashy as that of E3 or the Consumer Electronics Show. However, there still were a good number of things to see--hence this virtual tour of the GDC venue.
The Moscone Center's North Hall is where all the main exhibits are, with a variety of hardware, games, and other technologies on display. Upon entering, the first thing a visitor encounters is Microsoft's gamers' lounge, which had a number of PC and Xbox 360 games on display.
Also on hand was the sleek new Xbox 360 dev kit, which will be released this summer. It boasts 1GB of RAM--twice that of a civilian 360--and a sexy metallic blue and black finish. Instead of green, the ring of light on the console is also blue--and since it boasts the new "Jasper" circuitry inside, it won't get the Red Ring of Death. (In theory, anyway.)
After taking the escalator to the basement--sorry, lower level…
…attendees enter the main show floor.
The first thing atendees will encounter is the N-Gage booth--yes, the N-Gage. Nokia is still trying to flog this very dead horse, which has been rebranded as a smartphone development platform rather than a plastic taco which requires a toolkit and an engineering degree to change its games.
To help out, Nokia hired about a half-dozen startlingly fit spokesmodels, stuffed them into impossibly tight Logan's Run-esque white spandex body stockings, and perched them atop patent leather platform heels only a pole dancer could love. Despite their uncomfortable get-ups, they looked bored to tears, since other than the occasional ogler, the N-Gage booth was almost completely abandoned at all times.
In Part Two: Nintendo and Sony's booths!