The Games Convention

Last week was my first trip to the Games Convention in Leipzig, the main reason being that I spend the last two years on a different continent. But then again, did this first-time visit reveal mysterious secrets unknown to the uninitiated? No. Despite what the lobby groups want to tell you, it still looks like the gaming demographic still matches the old clichés (judging from the attendees, though they might not be overtly representative), the exception being the growing audience for the omnipresent casual games (the estrogen concentration was the highest at the Sony booth with its Singstar and Buzz games).

The marketing is still loud and sexist and I doubt that boobs will ever get more attention and fascinated looks than at events like this. The natural exceptions: The booths with the games where you gotta groom ponies (which also work with clichés).

But then again I had the chance to listen to some interesting talks, even though I missed the beginning of the most interesting one... (attentended by a member of the German Cultural Council, the editor of one of Germany's biggest gaming magazines, a representative of the Christian Democrats, representatives of the gaming industry etc.). Prof. Dr. Fux of the German Cultural Council pointed out that after the hysterical discussion about the effects of violent videogames, complete with politicians who didn't get their facts right at all, one can now witness a normalisation of the discourse – maybe the “Killerspiel” discussion served as a catalyst for a more serious and calm way of dealing with the fastest growing media industry in the world. (Of course, as several of the panelists didn't grow tired of pointing out, videogames are a form of culture; something I can completely agree with and I'm happy to this form of recognition. It just seems that this issue has to be cleared beforehand to justify any further involvement with the medium, as if the totally legitimate aim of earning money through popular entertainment and benefit from the spin-off effects was somehow suspicious). One example of the normalisation-process were the booths for people working in education. A very laudable approach since what we don't know we fear; though the people who attend the convention probably already posses a higher skill set than the average teacher. A further highlight: Seeing Rock Band in action. For the non-believers: Rock Band is a mixture of Singstar and Guitar Hero augmented by a drum kit and a gigantic dose of awesome. Even though EA spoiled my Christmas by postponing the European release to the first quarter of 2008 it's still like looking into the face of God!!

Another highlight: Meeting Rene Meyer, the person with the biggest collection of consoles and computers capable of playing games, who's collection amounts to more than 300 pieces of gaming history, even stuff from the former GDR – I hope he likes my German Master's Thesis about the history of videogames in East Germany since it seems he's well connected to book publishers. Also if any reader of this blog knows someone... Wink Wink.