Nintendo debuts 3D game console at E3 convention

The crowd at the Electronic Entertainment Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center, June 15, 2010.
The crowd at the Electronic Entertainment Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center, June 15, 2010.
Kevin Ferguson/KPCC

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The Electronic Entertainment Expo, E3, is one of Los Angeles biggest conventions of the year — a congregation of gaming industry insiders, bloggers and executives.

Nintendo USA president Reggie Fils-Aime launched the expo with a long-anticipated announcement.

"We’re not just raising the bar. We’re making that bar extend far into the distance. 3-D play on Nintendo 3DS is on the way," Fils-Aime said.

The 3DS is a hand-held game console that offers a three-dimensional experience without special glasses. It would be the hot holiday gift item if Nintendo made it available late this year, but the company’s holding off until next spring.

So thousands of reporters, developers and industry observers filed onto the Los Angeles Convention Center’s floor hoping for an opportunity to get their hands on 3DS consoles that models stood by to distribute. Blogger Justin Carmichael was one of them.

"The 3DS is gonna be one of the more innovative items this week. I’m excited, I’m stoked. I’m making my way toward the front just so I can see one of those lovely ladies with the 3DS," Carmichael said.

Those who weren’t awaiting Nintendo’s new console found shorter lines for other debuts like Sony’s 3D console, the Playstation Move, projects from big-time developers like Capcom and Ubisoft and games at Indiecade, an international festival of independently designed computer games. Sam Roberts runs that festival within the expo.

"A big part of what we do at Indiecade is bringing games to audiences that are interested in them. So our thing is about taking those things and giving them to the public at large," Roberts said.

Exhibitors at E3 aren’t just about entertainment. Ryan Sharpe is president of the Get Well Gamers Foundation. It refurbishes old game consoles and donates them to children’s hospitals throughout the United States and Canada. He said the idea for the effort is rooted in his own experience.

"I was sick all the time as a little kid. I’ve had pneumonia 16 times, I’ve broken 26 bones. And having nothing but "Price is Right" re-runs. And then one day they brought arcade games into the break room down the hall from where I was staying.

"I would wheel my little IV stand down there, drape the drift over the second player controller, and just lose hours instantly. Completely bypassing all the deadtime of laying there just wishing I wasn’t sick," Sharpe said.

The event continues through tomorrow. Most people can’t just walk in from off the street. But some of the expo’s premier innovations will turn up in stores as early as this fall.