Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of Local Tech Wire and business editor of WRAL.com.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Somehow, videogame doesn’t capture the growing significance of the digital media convergence that is being driving by many companies with major operations right here in the pine pollen capital of the world.

One of the Triangle’s tech crown jewels will be on vivid display Wednesday and Thursday when the region’s videogame industry puts on its second Triangle Game Conference.

However, the event is about much more than games and Cliffy B, the creative guru from Epic Games who will tout the company’s next likely megahit on Jimmy Fallon’s show this week.

Rather, the Triangle is an emerging force in multiple forms of digital media. As important as gaming is – generating revenues that top those of Hollywood films – these firms are also leading in development of virtual reality training, 3-D, online content, education and the emerging Immersive Internet.

While Epic gets most of the headlines for its Unreal game engine (the world’s most popular) and its Gears of War franchise, the Triangle is also home to the Gamebryo engine, numerous major game company studios, up-and-coming firms, the Virtual Heroes serious games pacesetter in many ways for virtual reality training, the American Research Institute, a world leader in immersive learning, and much more.

Not to be overlooked, either, is The Escapist. This fast-growing Web site for all things gaming that is based in Durham is generating millions of readers per month. The reasons are clear: Cutting edge, insightful content from video to blogs delivered at a site that is simply well done each and every day.

Keynote speakers include Chad Dezern, the studio director at Insomniac Games, which moved to the Triangle last year, and John Zuur Platten, who has been involved in some of the move toward more immersive entertainment from games to movies.

The event also will offer a “Lounge” for people seeking employment opportunities in the games-related sector.

Five tracks are included for speakers and panels to discuss the latest and emerging trends across the industry:

• Game Development
• Engines and Middleware
• Immersive Learning
• Business of Games
• Games and Media

Plus, a “Game development University” will help emerging game creators better understand how to take their ideas to market.

What more could someone interested in the digital entertainment realm ask for? Well, Cliffy could have chosen to announce Epic’s next game from the show.

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