Ah the joys of summer, languishing in the gentle warmth of the great outdoors under cloudless blue skies. The smell of fresh cut grass and the cooling shade of a resplendent oak, that’s what life is all about this time of year right?

Quite frankly no.

At present a generation (or two) of pasty faced digi kids are more than likely salivating over the potential offerings that are being brought to bear at the Los Angeles Electronic Entertainment Expo (or E3 if we’re being less formal). They are either fortunate enough to be there (alas no) or they are sucking the best of the information off the net in a bid to find out what the future holds for the those that have a certain interest/fascination/obsession with the latest technology.

For the uninitiated the E3 is the world’s largest annual trade show and the world’s third largest computer games convention. Essentially this is the week where the geeks inherit the Earth (well…Los Angeles) and gather to show and tell the latest in bleeding edge technology.

The biggest names in tech are all in attendance, think Sony, Namco, Atari, Sega, Warner Brothers and you are scratching the surface. All the names that have been responsible for the destruction of your carpal tunnel tissue over the last few years are all out to impress you with their wares. In total over four hundred companies are crammed into 540,000 net square feet of exhibition space in a bid to show you what will be hitting the markets for Christmas. Of course no event of this scale would be complete without the pre requisite showdown between the industry giants and this time is no exception as Microsoft’s Xbox 360 takes on the eagerly anticipated Sony Playstation 3.

Can Sony overcome the manufacturing delays which have plagued its next generation console and knock Microsoft out of the ball park with the inception of its new Blu Ray technology (that’s DVD but better to most of us) or has the Xbox managed to get its feet under the table and steal an early lead in the all important market share from under Sony’s nose. These are the questions that will be asked and pondered in a fashion reminiscent of that comic book guy from The Simpsons.

One unlikely candidate for the expo this year is the United States Army who will be in attendance showing off their latest game…sorry simulation used to train soldiers in the art of modern warfare. Apparently their simulation was so impressive that it was good enough to release as entertainment for public consumption (America’s Army – Special Forces). Although apparently its more about “educating the American public about the U.S. Army and its career opportunities” rather than just blowing stuff up and killing people.

Also in attendance are America’s Frag Dolls proving that gaming skills, painfully enlarged thumbs and damaged wrists are not just a male preserve. Not only will they be checking out the latest and greatest in the gaming world but they will also be taking on all comers in a series of console challenges (these ladies are professional players and in the online stakes they are considered pretty tough to beat). They are also in attendance to raise the profile of women in the gaming world which lets be honest has previously been weighed down in testosterone laden fan boys. Interestingly enough the Dolls were put together by software company Ubisoft and in a strange way this almost makes them the Spice Girls for geeks…

Of course its not all just fun and games, after all the digital marketplace is a serious business and the show offers workshops on the global economy of the technology market including predictions for the “digital economy” (yawn!) as well as the future of the handheld and console markets (yay!). All well and good I suppose if the flashing lights become a little bit too much for any of the older burnt out gamers in attendance.

Alas the event isn’t open to the public what with it being a trade show so its an event that is limited to industry and press but I can’t imagine that being much of a hurdle to the American public, after all my memories of the ATEI shows I used to attend as a kid at Earl’s Court (the coin op equivalent on a smaller scale) were often swamped with rugrats who had no business being anywhere in the vicinity (me included).

For those of us not fortunate enough to actually be in attendance we can all take heart that we can at least observe some of the goings on over the web. Last year’s expo was pretty comprehensively covered by the E3insider website which had webcam access from the floor of the show as well as media streams from the likes of G4TV.com. I suspect however that whoever is serving the content is going to be fighting an uphill bandwidth battle as users the world over try and grab a look at tomorrow’s technology today.

Whether you’re fortunate enough to be at E3 or whether you are just getting your fix second hand courtesy of the net. It looks like the future of gaming for better or worse, starts today.