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E3 gathering sends gamers into overtime

E3 gathering sends gamers into overtime

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The annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) held last month signified a bright future for gaming and multimedia software as a revenue stream for computer retailers.

As well as new 21st century versions of old favourites, many new technologies, games and partnerships were announced as over 1900 exhibitors displayed their wares for 55,000 delegates from all over the world.

The Web site from the mammoth event (www.e3.com) features demonstration videos of some of the new games that will invade shelf space in the next few years.

Some highlights from the show included:

The keynote speaker, author Don Tapscott, denied there was a link between video game content and violence in society such as the recent schoolyard massacre at Littleton, Colorado. Tapscott also cited the video game industry as one of the key motivators to high-performance hardware and that gamers represented the most active community on the Internet.

Research released at the show showed twice as many Americans preferred video games (34 per cent) to TV (18 per cent) for recreation. Going to the movies, surfing the Net and reading books were the other three recreations in the "top five". It was also reported that double-digit growth abounded for the third consecutive year with the industry now worth $US5.5 billion annually. Another $US3.2 billion was lost to pirates.

There was a rash of new snowboarding and other extreme sports titles gaining rave reviews from games-oriented publications.

Games developer THQ and media company MTV announced an alliance to produce extreme sport-based video and audio content of the quality which has been attained in the television medium.

Interplay Entertainment, the creator of driving game favourite Carmageddon, revealed it had surrendered a 57 per cent share of itself to another developer, Titus Interactive, which authors Roadsters, Blue Brothers 2000 and Superman.

Distributor Activision announced it had secured worldwide PlayStation and PC rights (excluding Japan) to the interactive arm of 20th Century Fox which produces a host of sport games.

The LucasArts Interactive-developed game based on the movie Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace is expected to be the biggest seller of the year. It was also expected to be previewed at E3 and released with the movie in the US this week. Unfortunately, it has been delayed indefinitely because of technical difficulties. The Phantom Menace will be followed by another from the new movie, called Episode 1: Obi-Wan. There is also a reference CD-ROM called Episode 1: The Insider's Guide.

Sega's new Dreamcast super system will include a 56Kbps modem for full Internet capabilities, a first for the platform.

Delegates and media were given their first sneak previews of the Windows version of Quake III. Crowds packed into Activision's Quake Arena to see the latest version of the popular battle game.

1970s rock chameleon-cum-technology investor David Bowie is involved with a games developer and is developing musical accompaniment as well as being modelled in a character. Eidos' game Omikron: The Nomad Soul will be the first to get the Ziggy Stardust treatment.


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