Electronics Expo Exposes New Spielberg Game

Electronic Entertainment Expo is the big annual event for the video game industry. Announcements at the conference included a fitness game for the Nintendo Wii, a redesign for the Sony handheld, and a few leaked details about upcoming Steven Spielberg video games.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

On Mondays, we talk about technology, and today the E3. That stands for Electronic Entertainment Expo. It's the video game industry's most important annual gathering in Santa Monica. There were some big announcements at the conference last week. The Nintendo Wii has developed a fitness game. The Sony handheld game has a new design. And hardcore gamers were given a few precious leaks about Steven Spielberg's soon-to-be-released video games.

NPR's Laura Sydell sent us this postcard from the conference.

LAURA SYDELL: Let's start with a few reminiscences about last year's 11th Annual E3. It was enormous and I hated it. I spent three days bumping up against more than 60,000 fans, analysts and reporters cramped into the Los Angeles Convention Center. The crowds of mostly men had their eyes on the booth babes - scantily clad women used like sirens to lure male fans to game demos. And it was loud. The sounds of computerized gunfights and hard rock soundtracks blasted through the walls.

(Soundbite of music)

SYDELL: This year the cacophony was contained within the walls of six luxury hotels lining the beach in Santa Monica. There wasn't a booth babe in sight. When I stepped outside I could gaze out at the ocean.

(Soundbite of ocean waves)

SYDELL: The new E3 reflects what the industry is trying to do: draw in women like me and busy people who don't see themselves as hardcore gamers. At this E3 I could sit in relative quiet in a conference room and be shown new games by well-manner developers like Itosus Yogi Trilson(ph). His calm demeanor belied the violent massively multi-player online game he showed me.

Mr. ITOSUS YOGI TRILSON (Game Developer): There it is. That's the dead guy.

SYDELL: But the highlights of E3 were not the shoot-them-up titles. This is the year of Nintendo's Wii. It proved to an industry that focused on young men that there are other people who might want to play, if only they made games for us. Nick Higger(ph) of THQ showed off the creative de Blob, where players paint a town policed by beings who only like gray.

Mr. NICK HIGGER (THQ): We're doing stuff here which is pretty harmless. You're restoring color and vibrancy to a place that's been drained of it.

SYDELL: Outside the demo areas, game developers enticed us with food, not booth babes. Sony gave a party with an open bar, a spread of chicken, beef and shrimp kebabs.

Unidentified Man: It's a pita crisp with hummus and olive oil - it's very good.

SYDELL: I admit, I liked the hors d'oeuvres. It beat waiting in long lines for junk food at the L.A. Convention Center. But while this scaled-down, calmer version of E3 appealed to me, it was missing the old creative spark for some. At the more humble Hotel California, uninvited game publisher Gamecock wouldn't give up the (unintelligible) they served hotdogs, scantily clad women, and off-beat titles to a few hundred fans. They even gave the old E3 a funeral on the beach.

Unidentified Group: (Singing) (Unintelligible)

SYDELL: But even here the mourners had to admit that the game industry, which is doing some $7.5 billion in annual sales in the U.S., has to grow up. They just want to make sure the boat doesn't sail without them.

Laura Sydell, NPR News.

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