London Games Festival kicks off

The UK's new game expo started today with events for industry insiders and everyday gamers; BAFTA game awards coming later in the week.

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LONDON--The week-long London Games Festival began today and will be the home until Sunday to events such as the Game Developers Conference London, the HMV Games Showcases, Game/Play, and the Artful Gaming Exhibition.

For those in the games industry, the first day of GDC London featured an all-day IBM tutorial on "Delivering a World of Choice With Cell Broadband Engine Application Processing." The GDC seminar sessions begin tomorrow, and the London Games Summit kicks off on Wednesday.

A number of events for gamers will take place throughout the week, including Games Showcases in HMV's Oxford Street store. Starting on Thursday, Pro Stroke Golf and PDC World Championship Darts will be playable. On Friday, Pro Evolution Soccer 6 (known as Winning Eleven: Pro Evolution Soccer 2007 in the US) will be available for the public to play for the first time in the UK, with West Ham's Bobby Zamora joining in the action from 3 p.m. Finally, on Saturday, Rockstar Games presents Table Tennis will join the roster. Other playable games include Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent, and Rainbow Six Vegas, as well as gaming classics such as Pac-Man and Street Fighter II. HMV Games Showcases will run each day between midday and 6 p.m.

Game/Play is based at the London Trocadero near Piccadilly Circus and is described as "a networked national touring exhibition focusing on what it means to play." It includes artist installations, independent video games, and online network artworks. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and is free to enter.

The Artful Gaming Exhibition is a showcase of gaming art and design specially brought together for the London Games Festival and includes all kinds of gaming art from "modifying game engines; devising new interactive interfaces; subverting traditional gaming paradigms; exploring new platforms and new technologies; using nontraditional R&D and production methods; and distribution via new networks." The exhibition will be running until Friday between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the Science Museum's Dana Centre in South Kensington and is also free to enter.

The London Games Festival ends on Saturday, and the highlight of the week looks likely to be the video game BAFTA awards on October 5, where UK television celebrity Vernon Kay will hand out a number of trophies, culminating in the Game of the Year. GameSpot will have highlights and news from that and all of the major sessions and events throughout the week.

The London Games Festival is the first major UK trade show event since 2004, when former game show giants ECTS and EGN held their events at the same time, and then both spontaneously combusted. LGF has the backing of not just the industry in the UK, but also the London Mayor's Office.

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