To: The Game Industry
From: Gen Katz, Editor
Topic: Connect vs. Expo
Date: Aug 2009

The two events are as different as their names imply. A public showing of games is different from an exchange between and within the industry.

E3 Expo exists for the core gamer. Remember the outcry at the E3 Media & Business Summit when gamers were dis-invited? Currently, back to the old format - tons of press are invited, lines snake around the mega booths to play the latest games, other booths show the fastest graphic card, most comfortable gaming chair and the most stereophonic 6 way sound earphone, and wheel and pedal controllers for a more in-depth experience. Meanwhile, business is being conducted away from the ear-splitting noise in tiny private rooms or in off-site restaurants.

At the other end of the spectrum is the Casual Connect where a crowd of people gathered in a large lobby floor with three ascending balconies are talking, drinking coffee and munching on breakfast pastries. Arranged in a semi-circle against the windows are desks with 2 or 3 people sitting behind them. Reminds me of voter registration tables or a job fair. Mostly people were talking to one another. They were right to name the conference Casual Connect because that's what people were doing - connecting. The Press, seems to have been given less than a second thought, which I don't understand.

The press room at E3 is huge - sofas, lockers, computers, printers and lunch. At Casual Connect, the Press gets a desk and four chairs in a cubicle. It is all very egalitarian here. Regardless of how important and large your position is in the casual industry - you get a table and 3 chairs. This not only makes everyone approachable but makes the space very compact. You don't have to walk around the sixty foot square mega installations to find the person to talk to. I didn't miss the booth babes either.

I mentioned talking. Since E3's inception, it has essentially been impossible to talk to anyone on the show floor. Competing producers are all trying to out shout, out shoot their neighbors. Talking is what goes on at Casual Connect. Deals were clearly being negotiated, but there was also a friendly sharing of information, not only at the lectures but in face to face conversations. Games were shown on monitors, assets handed out on CDs or USB sticks.

What we really appreciated was that the conference was so female-centric. We are very much a female-centric site, focusing on girls, women and grandmothers. Many producers unapologetically state that their target audience is women over 35 - some do include girls.

Two such different game-related experiences. Can they learn from one another? Is the dedication to the core gamer worth the expense of E3? How does the casual game industry handle press? Are their portals sufficient to get the word out? How and to whom the game industry transmits information about their products is constantly evolving. I remember coming back from E3 with boxes of literature - now even CD's are replaced with URLs.