Big-wigs from the videogame industry began gathering in San Francisco on Monday to share tips and make connections in a sector proving resistant to the economic meltdown.
Approximately 18,000 people are expected to attend the Game Developers Conference (GDC) by the time it wraps up Friday.
AdvertisementThat figure is on par with last year's attendance despite dismal global financial conditions.
"This GDC especially serves as a bar of measure and beacon for the games industry for 2009," said event director Meggan Scavio.
"The strength and spirit of the industry is reflected here in these five days where the community gathers ... to directly challenge current global economic conditions by finding and creating new opportunities."
US videogame hardware and software sales climbed 10 percent in February to 1.47 billion dollars as compared with 1.34 billion dollars the same month last year, according to market tracking firm NPD.
"The US video games industry continues to post strong year-over-year comps despite the tough economy," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier, who predicts that March will be another stellar month for videogame sales.
"Unit sales increased even more than dollar sales did, reflecting a slightly lower average retail price for all categories as compared to last year."
GDC attendees range from videogame industry icons behind blockbuster titles such as "Fallout 3" and "Metal Gear Solid" to college students with innovative new ideas and folks seeking work.
The event began Monday with a series of panels and tutorials, several of them devoted to tailoring videogames to Apple's hot-selling iPhones and iPod Touch MP3 players, which have motion-sensing capabilities.
GDC will kick off its main conference schedule on Wednesday with a keynote speech by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata.
Japan-based Nintendo is credited with enticing legions of "casual gamers" into the world of videogames with Wii consoles featuring easy-to-use motion-sensing controllers and titles geared for play with families or friends.
An Independent Games Festival and a Game Developers Choice Awards ceremony will provide glimpses of new talent and the works that peers deem most worthy of praise.
GDC is considered a growing rival for the annual Los Angeles E3 videogame industry gathering, which is trying to recoup its dazzling status after dabbling two years ago with being a small, invitation-only event.