It's a frenzied world of speed, color, sound and vision; a world which incites addiction and offers hours of high-resolution fun. Computer games are big business in Germany as the Games Convention in Leipzig proves.
A brave new world of computer-generated sights and sounds
For the next four days, avid computer fans can feast their insatiable appetites on a stunning array of state-of-the-art entertainment in an event which promises not to disappoint.
Thursday was the first day of the computer games convention, but even before the gates were thrown open, hundreds of eager fans had gathered outside in a bid to be among the first to size up the latest in computer game technology.
Visitors to the convention
It calls itself "Europe's leading trade fair for interactive entertainment, infotainment and edutainment", and with 280 exhibitors from 15 countries and some 110,000 visitors expected to show up, organisers could just be justified in blowing their event's own trumpet.
But just what is it that drives so many thousands of people into the loud lap of video entertainment when they could be outside creating their own in the sudden burst of summer sunshine?
Fact is, there's more to the event than row upon row of 21st century blow-your-mind, blow-up-the-world type games, which large slices of the general public still believe to be synonymous with computer-generated entertainment. Indeed, the organisers are promising something for everyone.
With an unprecedented 189 market premieres, including 52 from Germany, 59 from Europe and 98 from other parts of the world, it stands to be the most packed show in the trade fair's short history, and although it will doubtless attract its fair share of die-hard gamers, there's also a whole arm of the event dedicated to family entertainment.
Children and computers are no strange sight
The convention's family forum for media literacy, teaching and school software bills itself as a "special experience" for old and young. The convention has teamed up with Leipzig University and media experts from academic to provide young computer users and their parents and teachers with invaluable information on how to overcome the choice paralysis brought on by the dazzling gamut of multimedia products available to even very young users.
Angela Schierholz, who is a project director at the convention says manufacturers recognise the benefits of wooing their customers at the youngest possible age.
"The growth in the number of exhibitors of over 50 percent compared to 2004 in this area, and the doubling of the surface area involved, show that the ability to handle new media competently is achieving increasing significance," she said.
The real thing
But let there be no mistake that these four days of bright lights and simulated sound are not about being worthy, but about milking consumer enthusiasm. It's a huge market, and big name games manufacturers are there in full force.
The Xbox factor
Microsoft is touting its new and improved Xbox 360 which is to be launched on the European market for at tidy 299 euros ($346) in time for St. Nicholas to do the decent thing and spread it among all the little children .
If they stick to their target, Microsoft will be ahead of their main rivals Sony and Nintendo who are also planning to launch multi-tasking, super-sonic new consoles, but not until next year. Aficionados and addicts will just have to console themselves with some of the other thousands of products while they wait.
The Games Convention runs from August 18th to August 21st and is open Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday from 9.00 to 18.00, and on Saturdays from 09.00 to 20.00. Entrance costs from 3.50 euros ($4.27) for children to 10 euros for adults. Children to the age of 10 must be accompanied by an adult.