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Last Updated: Friday, 20 May, 2005, 10:16 GMT 11:16 UK
E3 games expo assaults the senses
Alfred Hermida
Technology editor, BBC News website, in Los Angeles

Booth babes at E3
"Booth babes" try to draw in the crowds to games stands
The E3 expo in Los Angeles is a trade show like no other. It is like being inside a video game itself, played by a hyperactive 13-year-old.

Vibrant, vivid colours stream through the eye, as eardrums struggle to make sense of the cacophony of sound.

It is a full-blown onslaught on the senses; exhibitors wrestle for the time of more than 60,000 visitors.

Thousands of monitors of every shape and size flash images of soldiers fighting and cars racing.

And there are always the obligatory zombies that come to life - it is all just a flavour of the titles on offer.

The young and the restless

Throngs of twentysomethings prowl the 540,000 sq ft of the show floor. Most are in jeans and t-shirts, with many proudly broadcasting their affiliation to their favourite game.

Neon lights at E3 games expo
It is as if you have stumbled into a pagan ceremony, where the devotees are paying homage to the gods of video games

They jostle with each other to get a glimpse of the games coming for the next wave of consoles.

Those playing the games on view gawk at plasma screens, fingers twitching, concentrating on pressing buttons in the right order.

Others are on the look out for the paraphernalia of shows like this: the product t-shirt or baseball cap.

It seems far more of a fan convention than the trade show of an industry that is worth more than $7bn in the US alone.

Wait a minute

Over by the Nintendo stand, long lines for the latest Legend of Zelda game are testimony to the fan following of big titles.

Signs along the queue tantalise gamers with the promise of an end to their wait.

If you are here, it is a two-hour wait. But once you reach this one, it is only a one-hour wait.

Gamers recover on the E3 games expo show floor
Gamers are left feeling assaulted by loud music, lights, and action
The scene repeats itself across the convention centre as fans patiently stand in line for a taste of the must-see games.

The loudest stand belongs to the biggest games publisher of them all, Electronic Arts (EA).

In the corner promoting sports games, big name players are projected on life-size screens, stridently repeating the EA mantra, "It's in the game".

In the centre of the stand, people linger, entranced by a gigantic, circular, 360-degree screen, showing clips of EA blockbusters.

It is as if you have stumbled into a pagan ceremony, where the devotees are paying homage to the gods of video games.

Tested in battle

From time to time, groups of people emerge from the halls into the glare of the California sun.

Gamer in a pod
Attendees are itching to get their hands on the latest titles
On hand are women in tight outfits to offer some relief in the shape of painkillers and earplugs.

By the end of the three-day spectacular, everyone feels they have been through a gruelling assault course on the senses.

Shoulders are hunched, eyes have lost their sparkle, feet throb.

But they will be back next year, E3 veterans tested in battle, and ready to take on the best the video games industry can offer.


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