LOS ANGELES – The subject is video games, but there's nothing virtual about it — the Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3 (search), proves that the $11-billion-a-year industry is undoubtedly for real.
More than 400 exhibitors, 60,000 retailers and game developers — as well as a few big-name celebrities — attended the biggest and loudest gathering of gaming professionals in the world, which ran much of this week at the Los Angeles Convention Center
"It shows you what kind of a growing phenomenon this is. The video-gaming generation, it's amazing. It's actually more fun to play the game than actually being Mr. Fantastic, and I don't have to put on 60 pounds of latex to play the game," said Michael Chiklis (search), who attended E3 to promote his summer blockbuster "Fantastic Four (search)," which also has a video game version.
Indeed, E3 featured the industry's big guns, including Sony, Nintendo and EA Games. Microsoft also was on hand with its latest unveiling: the Xbox 360 (search) console, which hits stores this holiday season.
"Our goal has gotten much bigger and much more aggressive in that we want to change the way people think about fun," said Carlos de Leon, a Microsoft spokesman. "Xbox 360 starts not just the next generation of gaming, but the next generation of entertainment. With the original Xbox, our goal was to change the way people view video gaming."
Not to be outdone, Sony also showed off its PlayStation 3 (search), due out next year.
"It's not an update — we basically have gone out and future-proofed our box looking at technology that we built from scratch that's 35 times more powerful than the PlayStation 2," said Ron Eagle, a Sony representative.
Eagle added that the new Playstation will allow users sitting in their living rooms to go global.
"As we look into the future with PlayStation 3, we did announce a fact that we have some new technology like the camera that's going to allow you to actually go out — and anyone that has that camera on the network can see what they're viewing real-time across the entire globe," Eagle said.
New consoles always raise the bar in terms of technology. Both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 will support full high-definition television — which offers clear and sharp image resolution for large screens — and Microsoft and Sony are both banking on it as a key selling point.
"The next generation, it's so advanced and it uses more emerging technology, like high definition. With the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, broadband was just coming out and they kind of helped push that, and the PlayStation 2 helped push DVD," said John Davison, vice president of Game Group, the largest publisher of electronic game magazines in the United States
"I think that these new boxes will come along at around the same time as high definition TVs are getting cheaper, and it's going to encourage people. It's another excuse to buy an HDTV this holiday," Davison added.
Nokia (search), meanwhile, believes gaming will also reach out and touch cell phones as technology catches up with demand.
"I think Java download gaming is actually the way of the future, and I think it's going to come to the U.S. in a matter of months ... I think it's going to explode in the U.S. as soon as consumers realize how easy it is," said Nokia spokeswoman Lisa Waits.
FOX News' Mike Waco contributed to this report.