Fast forward to today. While there are still some small players, often revolving around the same anemic home computers of 1981, computer conventions have grown quite a bit. At least in the heady heyday of the now-deceased Comdex, they could out-glitz Las Vegas (which is not an easy thing to do).
But something is gone.
It's the tables with stuff! The days of Big Bob Software selling stacks of BobWord 1.0 for the TRS-80 are gone. He's been replaced with multi-hundred-thousand dollar booths from Sony and Intel selling. . .NOTHING! If I walk into the Intel booth and tell 'em that I've heard about their company and that I'm interested in developing software for their new CISC microprocessor (remember when they were called that?) the best I'll get is a colorful brochure, a keychain, and a promise to contact me (which they never do).
What's the freakin' point? Honestly, if I was a developer interested in developing for an Intel processor, I could order everything I need from their website or their 800-number. Apart from a five-minute demo of their latest profiler suite (probably downloadable as a QuickTime file on their website), there's exactly zilch that their expensive booth has to offer.
If I walked up to the 3D Studio Max booth, watched the demo, and then said "that looks like a great product, I'll take it!", they'd give me a look like a german shepherd trying to understand calculus. After all, they don't actually want you to buy 3D Studio Max, they just want you to become aware of it, then take a colorful brochure and walk away.
And that's just pointless.
Other kinds of conventions haven't caught this bug. Imagine if you went to a comic book convention, and you went to the booth for Big Bob's comics. After shaking hands with Big Bob, you ask him what he's selling. He then goes into a pitch for his new comic, "Lightning Man". He describes the superhero's origins and adventures, punctuated with slides showing really nice superhero art. You then say "sounds like a good read, gimme one", and Big Bob says "No, we're not actually selling Lightning Man comics. We just want you to be aware of the Lightning Man brand".
Having gone to both conventions, I can confirm that the learning-calculus gaze would then be happening on the other side of the velcro-draped table.
I just don't get it anymore. While it's certainly fun to see the colored lights and collect free rubber toys from booths, the whole experience has just melted together into one big dull continuum of people selling you the fact that they're selling something. I wanna see a real game development expo. One where I see a booth for Big Bob's 3D Engine, I talk to Bob a bit about his engine, I'm impressed with it, I pay him $x.xx for it, and he hands me a CD and a manual.
At least that's something. As opposed to brand awareness, which is nothing.
And since I have nothing more to say, here's a picture of a rabbit with a pancake. . .I mean Murray the killer armadillo trying to burrow under our fence. Mel decided that Murray doesn't really fight back, so he's gotten more bold about chasing him around the yard. And, since I cut off the biggest escape route from the back yard (the drainage ditch outlet) to keep puppies from escaping, Murray has to find his own way out.
What an odd brain a creature must have to have its fight-or-flight reflex tell him "I am threatened, I must DIG!"