“It used to be one would go to see what the cool gadgets were. Now one goes there to see what cool gadgets are going to use our content and who the various players are that we’re going to be heading into the new era with.”
– CBS President Leslie Moonves
According to CNN, the collected show floors of CES 2007 cover approximately the same amount of space as 30 football fields. (Pick two NFL teams at random, and fill the rest of the nation’s professional football stadiums with gadgets and geeks, and you’ll have it.) Occupying space in Las Vegas’ illustrious Venetian, Sands and Hilton resorts, as well as the majority of the Las Vegas Convention Center, CES is without a doubt the largest show devoted to consumer technology and digital entertainment in the world. Show organizers are expecting between 150,000 and 200,000 attendees between today and Wednesday, and that’s not counting the few thousand or so in town for that other entertainment convention in town this week.
We flew in Sunday afternoon to behold the spectacle, spread the good word and offer our perspective on the show, which has attracted a familiar array of electronic and entertainment industry luminaries, like Bill Gates, Michael Dell and the Presidents of Walt Disney and Motorola (among others). The folks behind CES are suggesting that for this, the 40th year of the storied convention (the birthplace of E3), the acronym may no longer mean “Consumer Electronic Show,” but rather, “Connected Entertainment,” and after a quick look around the show floor today (which was still slightly under construction) and a thorough perusal of the exhibition listings, I have to agree with them.
CES has traditionally been the place to see and play with the coolest new technology, some of which may be destined for that great vaporware list in the sky, but as we slide toward the end of the first decade of this new millennium, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that CES is changing.
The show floors at CES 2007 are still littered with the usual assortment of high tech gadgets and electronic gewgaws, and we will no doubt have a lot to say about as many of those as we can get our hands on, but now that many of us listen to our music, not from CD, tapes or records, but from digital storage devices (predicted and promised any number of CES shows ago), and that movies and television are coming to us over any number of devices and services (not, as in the past, when it’s most convenient for programmers, but when and how we choose to consume them), it’s become apparent that any notion of a separation of entertainment and technology is false, and that the future of high tech and the future of entertainment are intertwined.
Naturally, this includes games. There are a great many game and game product producers present at CES, and we’ll try to catch up with as many of them as we can. But we’re also here to see what the future, that ever-changing (always in motion) specter of promise, holds in store for us and how we entertain ourselves. That’ll start tomorrow, as we set out across the various venues on a full-on assault on all of the CES goodness we can absorb, but in the meantime, we’re living it up, Humidor Style, in Vegas. Pictures of the patent leather corseted champagne bottle to follow.