Editor’s note: John Gaudiosi is a national journalist who has been covering the video game business for more than a decade. In addition to blogging for WRAL.com, he also writes about gaming for Wired Magazine, The Washington Post, Xbox.com and Yahoo! Games. His Gaming Guru blog is written for WRAL.com.
LAS VEGAS — I spent the weekend amongst 2,000 Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) massively multiplayer online (MMO) gamers. They gathered together in Sin City for the eighth annual Fan Faire.
What was once a celebration of all things EverQuest has expanded, along with SOE, to include new MMO game adventures like The Matrix Online, Vanguard, PlanetSide, and Star Wars Galaxies. The three-day event included sneak peaks at upcoming MMOs like The Agency (think James Bond in a persistent online world), Pirates of the Burning Sea (think Pirates), Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising (think Clash of the Titans, if you’re old enough to remember that movie – they’re remaking it for those who don’t remember) and Free Realms (think CGI movies like Shrek in an online family game).
Members of t gaming press regularly get to see new titles and meet with developers. Fan Faire opened these exclusive opportunities up to anyone who paid $85 to attend (that price included two great buffets – one in the exclusive Voodoo nightlub at the Rio – and lots of free T-shirts and prizes).
There were days of panels and sessions that allowed the gamers to ask game makers at SOE anything they wanted. This type of access just wasn’t possible in the past, and never were there so many new games to see from SOE.
The highlight of this year’s event was a wedding between two big EverQuest gamers. It took place during the closing-night banquet and the costume contest. Many gamers made their own costumes to celebrate their in-game characters.
The wedding I mentioned was the first to combine a real wedding, complete with Vegas pastor, with a virtual in-game wedding. It was such a hit that numerous gamers asked SOE if they could get hitched at next year’s event. SOE is all for making this a new part of the festivities. The only question is how to top such an excellent, all-around gaming event.