E3: Ten things you may not know about games exhibition

From its history to its technical requirements, here are a few facts the biggest games event of the year

Some of the thousands of attendees at last year’s E3  watch a demonstration of Call of Duty at the Activision exhibit. Photograph: David McNee/Reuters

Some of the thousands of attendees at last year’s E3 watch a demonstration of Call of Duty at the Activision exhibit. Photograph: David McNee/Reuters

Sun, Jun 8, 2014, 12:00

It’s the highlight of the games calendar for the year, and it’s just around the corner, but there are some things about E3 that you may not know.

Its history: E3 began in 1995, and was known as the Electronic Entertainment Expo from 1996 to 2006. However, in 2007, the name changed to E3 Media and Business Summit. That was short-lived though, and in 2009 it reverted to E3 again.

Its location: E3 has traditionally been held in Los Angeles, but it has moved to Santa Monica, Atlanta and there was even a Tokyo E3 held back in the 1990s. In 2012, there was speculation that the following year’s show could move to New York or San Francisco, due to construction work around the convention centre, but that didn’t come to pass, and it seems that LA will be E3’s permanent home for the foreseeable future.

It’s big business for LA: It’s no wonder the city wants to hang on to it. The Entertainment software Association is expecting more than 40,000 people to pass through the show floor, including games companies, media and industry attendees. In total, it brings almost $40 million to the city of Los Angeles.

New products: Coinciding with Sony’s entry into the games market, E3 has provided a worldwide stage for other major announcements in the industry - the Wii, Project Natal, aka Kinect, and the PlayStation 2 were all unveiled at the event. However, although Sony and Microsoft revealed further details of their consoles at last year’s E3 event, they also held separate launch events ahead of the conference. while that drove hype around both the PS4 and the Xbox One, it also called into question E3’s position as the place for companies to carry out the “big reveal”.

New tricks: Never one to sit on its laurels, E3 is embracing new technology. More specifically, this year it plans to live stream the show floor through Twitch. It’s the first time that the event has been shown live like this, so get ready for your on-camera debut…. .

Equipment: Putting on E3 is a major undertaking. It uses enough Ethernet cable to stretch from Madrid to Paris, weighing in at two tonnes in total. Meanwhile, more than 35,000 video monitors will be dotted around the show floor, with 1 miles of extension cord and five miles of duct tape to make sure that we don’t trip over it.

Internet access: The three-day event requires more bandwidth than most US cities will need in a year. That’s according to the ESA, which runs the event. Though that won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has attended E3 in the past couple of years. Between attendees carrying multiple devices, news organisations covering the event, and exhibitors sucking up what they need, that’s a lot of devices and a lot of bandwidth. So it’s not surprising that occasionally, internet access gets a bit patchy.

Celebrities: It’s been a while since video games could be considered a niche past-time. It’s a multi-billion-dollar business. Each year, E3 plays host to a number of celebrity guests - some there to help promote games, others there as interested parties - of varying profiles. In the past, big name stars such as Usher, Snoop Dogg, James Cameron and Steven Spielberg have been in attendance.

After hours: There is a huge social scene to E3 too, with after hours parties taking place around the city once the LA convention centre has officially closed up for the day. But while some are open to the public - and some are fundraisers - the ones everyone talks about are usually the invite-only ones held by the big games firms. So if you aren’t on the list, prepare for disappointment - or get better at blagging.

Monday is the day: Although the show itself doesn’t kick off til noon on Tuesday, most of the news on games will be revealed on Monday when all the major press conferences are held.Microsoft gets things started, with Sony finishing off the day. So be prepared for a deluge of games news tomorrow.

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