A Ticket To Gamer Heaven

Alison Young
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May 21, 2005
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A Gamer’s Paradise

By the time you read this, I’ll be sitting pretty in Los Angeles attending the world’s biggest and best video game conference, E3 Expo 2005. There were only a handful of people who knew what the heck I was talking about when I told them, “I’m going to E3!”

For all you gamers out there, you very well know what E3 is and you’re probably really jealous that I went! For everyone else, let me educate you …

The annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) — “Where Business Gets Fun,” as they say — is the world’s largest trade event showcasing entertainment software and other related products. This 11th annual expo is the biggest ever with a show floor that covers 540,000 net square feet, the equivalent of 2,700 city blocks. Tens of thousands of industry professionals from around the world attend this every year to experience the future of interactive entertainment. Sorry, but it is a trade-only event and you must be invited or qualify as industry to attend. This year, there are more than 400 exhibitors from 90 countries to debut more than 1,000 never-before-seen computer and video games and other related products — oh, baby!

E3 is owned and operated by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), which is the United States association dedicated to serving the business and public affairs needs of the companies publishing interactive games for video game consoles, handheld devices, personal computers and the Internet. ESA members collectively count for more than 90 percent of the $7 billion a year in entertainment software sales.

This is my first E3. I’ve wanted to go for years, and now I’m so excited to be at one! Some highlights of E3 2005 that I’m looking forward to are the recently announced Xbox 360, the new PlayStation 3, the next-generation Nintendo game machine and lots of new games and toys. In my upcoming columns, you’ll be reading about all the goodies I discover. If you want to attend E3 virtually, check-out www.e3insider.com. It’s the next best thing to being there in person.

Download Music — The Legal Way

I love music, all kinds of music. I listen to it everywhere: the car, at home, while working and as I’m exercising. Whenever I leave the house, I even make sure I have music playing for my spoiled parrot, Duncan. He apparently likes listening to music, too, as he whistles along with the tunes.

I promise I’m not crazy, even though I’ve filled up all three of my iPods with music! My entire CD collection has been transferred onto my iPods, and Apple’s iTunes music store has made a small fortune off me, charging 99 cents for each song I’ve legally downloaded.

The iTunes Music Store is the biggest and most successful music download service, selling more than 400 million songs since its inception. In an attempt to combat Apple’s hold on the online music market, Yahoo! Music Unlimited (music.yahoo.com) began offering single song downloads at 79 cents each. In addition, users have the option to subscribe for unlimited downloads at $6.99 a month (or $59.88 if you pay for the entire year in advance). More than 1 million songs are available. You can play your Yahoo! songs on just about any digital music player; however, it’s not yet compatible with Macintosh. In addition, the Yahoo! service offers streaming music video viewing. This is especially good if you don’t have time to sit in front of the television all day and watch MTV.

Yahoo! Music Unlimited is also competing against Napster (www.napster.com) and Rhapsody (www.rhapsody.com). Napster charges $14.95 a month for its unlimited subscription, or 99 cents a song. Rhapsody is $14.99 a month or 89 cents per song.

All four of the above-mentioned services also offer commercial- free radio stations. Since I’m a huge iPod fan, I’ll stick with iTunes, even though I have to pay 20 cents more per song.

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