Console heroes in the flesh at top fair
By Erik Nebel Aug 23, 2007, 16:08 GMT
Model Karima Adebibe from London poses as Lara Croft at the Eidos booth of Europe\'s biggest trade fair for computer and video games, the \'Games Convention\', in Leipzig, Germany, 22 August 2007. The fair runs for the sixth time from 23 to 26 August 2007. The number of exhibitors increased by 34 percent compared to the prior year, to an overall of 503. Organisers expect over 200.000 visitors to attend the fair. EPA/WALTRAUD GRUBITSCH
Leipzig, Germany - Alessandra Heiche, 12, took her whole family to the Games Convention, Europe's top trade fair for console and computer games, when it opened Thursday in Leipzig, Germany.
Not only did she have her brother in tow, but also mother and father Heiche and even her grandfather.
'We came here last year. It's just so amazing,' said Alessandra, eyes glowing, as thousands of games fans tried out the virtual worlds of offer at the Leipzig exhibition grounds.
Unlike its US counterpart, the Los Angeles fair E3, the Games Convention (GC) welcomes enthusiasts, and manufacturers do all they can to make their stands appeal to ordinary gamers.
Flesh-and-blood heroes emerge from the screens in the former of actors playing the warriors, space explorers and gaming icons such as Lara Croft.
Microsoft's GC stand takes the form of a spacious park including trees, lawn and fences.
The Nintendo stand, by contrast, is minimalist, decorated in wall-to-wall white.
Sony is pushing its PlayStation as the leisure device not only for all ages but also for every moment of the day. The Sony stand not only has a mocked-up living room, but a bathroom too.
So it is official at last: hard-core gamers even daddle with consoles while using the toilet. They are demonstrating how this week in Leipzig. Older games lovers look a bit shocked when they see it.
Other stands provide couches and deck-chairs for enthusiasts to try out games in maximum comfort. Despite the din of music on the stands, most enthusiasts seem unaware of the noise.
When they concentrate on a new game, they seem to forget the world around them.
One oasis of calm at the fair is GC Family, a pavilion intended for children, their parents and schoolteachers, where makers focus on the educational side of gaming.
The first day of GC was remarkable for the large numbers of women and older people among the visitors, suggesting that the electronic games industry is succeeding in its efforts to entertain the whole family.
The Heiche family from Dresden seem to be believers.
Bernd Kelb, the grandfather, said he was keen on games that test his knowledge, while Alessandra said she best enjoys games that feature sweet little animals.
Committed gamers find this bid to appeal to the mainstream faintly treacherous.
Markus Scholle drove four hours to Leipzig to sniff out what is new in role-play and fantasy gaming, and admits he spends time practically every day in his virtual worlds.
'I'm interested in cutting-edge games,' he said. 'I just hope that the industry doesn't forget the needs of us hard-core gamers when it cultivates these fringe people.'
Internet: www.gc-germany.com© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur