Several of the Triangle's video-game companies will make appearances at the annual E3 conference in Los Angeles this week to promote new products, troll for deals and hobnob.
"Oh yeah, baby, are you kidding?" Mark Rein, co-founder of Epic Games, said in a phone interview Friday. "You don't miss E3."
Epic will give an early peek at two new games -- "Bulletstorm" and "Gears of War 3" -- and promote the latest incarnation of its software that helps other companies build new games.
This region is an emerging video-game industry hub with about 30 companies that employ about 1,200 local workers. Triangle officials are trying to boost the region's profile in the gaming industry and held a conference in April, partly to recruit other companies.
Epic employs about 140 people at its Cary headquarters and continues to hire. The company has said that the third installment of its wildly popular "Gears" series will hit stores in North America next April.
Rein said you don't go to E3 for the official stuff. The E3 conference gets saturation coverage from bloggers, Tweeters, journalists and analysts, so that a gaming fanatic could easily follow most of the conference online.
A big reason for making the journey to E3 is to see and be seen. Like, actual humans.
"Lots of celebrity sightings," Rein said. "There's so many cocktail party receptions that you end up double-booked."
Virtual technology is part of the reason why not everyone feels obligated to attend.
Chad Dezern, director of Insomniac Games' Durham studio, said his company's representation at E3 will come from the Burbank headquarters.
"We're kind of sitting this one out," Dezern said.
The soured economy is another impediment to making the trip to the West Coast.
Icarus Studios/Fallen Earth is not sending anyone this year. The two affiliated companies laid off 75 workers, more than two-thirds of their combined staff, last month.
Spokeswoman Tricia Jenkins said employees with the Cary companies attended E3 last year. Now they're regrouping and developing new products with hopes of making the show next year.