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Games Biggest Hit At DigitalLife Conference

Organizers estimated attendance at nearly 60,000 during the four-day show, and it was especially popular among the teenage set.
DigitalLife 2006 drew tens of thousands of teens on field trips, professional game players and other tech-enthusiasts to the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City.

Organizers estimated attendance at nearly 60,000 during the conference, which began Thursday and ended Sunday. Gaming was, by far, the most popular attraction, evidenced by long lines of teens queuing up to test the latest products and compete in tournaments.

Chris Smith, 17, traveled from Philadelphia, to compete in an MLG tournament that drew nearly 120 teams, with four players each. As a professional gamer, he won over the support of his parents to skip school and compete. Smith said he earned $9,000 this year and gaming beats the jobs his friends have. He said he spends about 10 hours a week gaming and maintains a 3.3 grade point average.

"To begin with, my parents were against it," he said. "Eventually it started bringing in money and they saw it was safe. Now they help me skip school and pay for events."

Many students did not have to skip school to attend DigitalLife. Grace H. Dodge Vocational High School in the Bronx and Chelsea Vocational High School in Manhattan had field trips to the event. Students at those schools are studying computers and electronics and attended workshops at DigitalLife.

Seventeen-year-old Roosevelt Coard, who is majoring in Cisco, plans to become a computer programmer. His face lit up as he walked into the exhibitors' room, filled with games. He owns a PlayStation2, a Sega Dreamcast console and Super Ninetendo, which he received as Christmas and birthday presents.

"Video games take my mind off of other stuff," he said.

William Crespo, a 15-year-old from Chelsea Vocational High School, went straight to gaming booths after attending technology workshops.

"We learned about how we hardly have any privacy, because of spyware and how to make video games," he said.

His classmate, Matthew Marrero, 15, said he learned not to open e-mails from companies without first checking them for viruses.

While youth packed the center for a gaming area twice as large as last year's, 30-somethings checked out home entertainment centers, while fewer attendees were drawn electronic gadgets for the kitchen, PDA's and other products.