Over 200 exhibitors descended on Los Angeles this week for the biggest gaming expo of the year.  And it seemed as if downtown LA was turned into one giant videogame. Large murals of HALO 4 characters and game posters adorned the sides of buildings; hotel rooms had cartoonish glass decals over bathroom mirrors.

And the main floor of E3 was a fantasy buff’s mecca—blinking video screens, large replicas of tanks and Aliens, plastic-boned dinosaurs and scantily-clad elfin women were poised to attract and hold the eyes of its coveted 18-35 year old male demographic.

That’s the magic of E3.

It was the substance that fizzled.

Microsoft was the first big company to present its new wares. And it didn’t disappoint (or, at least, not in comparison to the other two large gaming companies—SONY and Nintendo). SmartGlass—a new platform that will let folks stream synchronized content over a variety of screens through the XBOX 360, is a gadget that got a lot of oohs and ahs from the tech press. It’s a testament to Microsoft that the XBOX 360 is seen as a living room device—not just a gaming system that appeals to a well-entrenched gaming audience.

SONY’s presentation, on the other hand, was a complete and utter gorefest. SONY didn’t unveil any hardware—just a few game titles that took you front and center to the frontlines of a battlefield where you can decapitate the enemy or blow the enemy’s face off and watch the blood fill in the holes in his skull. That drew the largest cheers from the audience.

Nintendo had announced a new gamepad feature for its WII U console before E3 was officially underway and the rest of the news during the gaming expo—ho-hum at  best with a few new game titles. The most interesting part of the conference was watching the ushers try to keep people with orange bracelets out of the red bracelet area. You gotta feel for these guys. It was utter chaos—but completely entertaining.

Even as a non-gamer, it was easy to see how E3 is a cult event. There were hard-core devotees that could completely geek-out at the latest and greatest graphics, sound systems and motion-controlled technologies. Fans wandered from booth to booth …like gamblers in a Vegas Casino—unaware of time or motion—but pummeled with blinking screens and 3D demos, the canned grunting voices of fighters and the clink of swords—and the ever-present din of their peers.