I was just sitting here contemplating last month’s Global Gaming Expo, and thinking how the industry’s showcase event is, indeed, a metaphor for life itself-its triumphs and failures, its sheer jubilation and its utter despair.
I’m kidding. Actually, I was eating a Slim Jim and watching a Popeye cartoon. But isn’t that really the same thing?
Normally, in this space the month after the big G2E show, I would write a wisecracking, madcap review of the show, but this year, I thought I would use my years of journalistic experience, combined with knowledge of gaming technology gleaned from two decades of trade-magazine research, to write a comprehensive, professional analysis of the trade show.
Then I thought again, and decided to just go with the wisecracks.
What I said in the first paragraph is sort of true of G2E-it has its good and bad points. For instance:
Good: F&B at G2E. As always, it was a good thing I was moderating panels and had meetings in the main trade show. Otherwise, I would have stayed at F&B, eating everything in sight, until they came with a forklift to remove a blubbery carcass the size of West Virginia that was once me. It was a showcase of culinary heaven.
Bad: The hot dog situation. At the Nathan’s booth, you get half a hot dog. Half a dog? Who wants half a dog? Why don’t you give me half a Coke with it, and a single French fry? Where’s the other half of my hot dog?! Oh well, no problem. I can go over to the Dietz & Watson booth and get a great, complete hot dog-except they put it on this hard, chewy, whole wheat health-food bun.
Look. If you’re going to eat a hot dog, you’re pretty much past the healthy-eating stage, aren’t you? “Let’s see. I’ll have all that pig meat left on the slaughterhouse floor. Bake it into a skin wrapper, boil it and hand it over. But make sure the bun is healthy, OK?” My point? Wrap that tube steak in some enriched flour, willya? Maybe throw in some chili and cheese. Better yet, cover it in cornmeal and deep-fry that sucker. I want to die with a smile on my face.
OK, on to the main trade show:
Good: All the networking. I saw gaming professionals from every part of the planet, and learned about their companies and products. You can only do that at G2E.
Bad: Several of those professionals, although we had never met, knew who I am-not by reputation, but by cartoon, thanks to that image over there on this page. “Ja, I know you! You that cartoon!” I used to wonder what to respond when presented with the sentence, “I recognize you from your cartoon.” Now, I simply respond, “I recognize you from the police sketch.” (Yeah, yeah, I know. It actually does look like me.)
Good: The innovations from the slot-makers, and the system-makers. Cyberview had these Xbox-style games designed for server-based slot systems that were way cool. (Professionally speaking, of course.) One of them was a pinball game that was so realistic I thought I was 17 and back at the bowling alley. (Damn flashbacks.) Hey, I’m the first to admit I suck at Pong (another way-cool game, by Bally), but if I can win money by being good at pinball, reserve my Ferrari right now.
WMS had “The Wizard of Oz,” where you sit down in this virtual-reality-style seat, surrounded by sound, and it’s like you’re in the movie. I had nightmares about flying monkeys that night. (But not because of the game.)
IGT had this game that used two overlapping video screens, to create a 3-D effect that simulated spinning reels so realistically that you’d think it was a stepper. I thought, “Why not just play a stepper?” Then I remembered-this is perfect for server-based gaming, which we’re now supposed to call “networked gaming.” Oh, whatever. I still like my Triple Stars reel-spinner. In dollars.
Bad: The parking situation. Ten bucks to park at the Convention Center lot. Yes, I’m aware it costs $35 to stop your car in New York City. But this is Las Vegas, the land of free parking. I just parked for free at the nearest available casino parking space. It was in Reno.
OK, upon reflection, there was much more good than bad at the G2E show. Just like every year.
Now, where was I? Oh yeah, Popeye and Slim Jim!