Way back when, before we had the Eurogamer Expo (or EGX or whatever it is called now), there was an annual show in that there London called ECTS. I think the initials stood for European Computer Trade Show or something.
Although it was trade only, it was laughably easy to get tickets anyway. I just made up a company name and applied, and lo – tickets arrived in the post. Nobody questioned me or my friend (who was also my company’s “R&D Lead”) as we entered the ExCeL and illegitimately revelled in touching the as-yet unreleased Nintendo Gamecube and were overwhelmed with the glut of steering wheel controllers and incredibly realistic guns used in strange Vietnamese shooting games.
There was a stall selling brand new Atari liquidation stock, with piles of Jaguars and Lynxes up the wazoo. At one point they were selling for £5 each, but when I tried to purchase a couple, I was told there was a minimum order of 100 units. How disappointing!
Also disappointing was the lack of actual games on show. The Game Boy Advance, Gamecube and Xbox 1 (no, the original Xbox 1) were all brand spanking new so there was little see there, and the original PlayStation, the Saturn and the N64 were pretty much gone by then. Steering wheels though? Sorted.
Oh yes. And boobs. So. Many. Boobs.
These days, “Booth Babes” are generally frowned upon at such shows. Indeed, when I went to the Eurogamer show in 2011 there were very few, apart from a couple at a Russian shootmans game stand, and a tiny woman busting out of a skintight catsuit at the PlayStation Vita area. In 2001’s ECTS however, pretty much every company had boobs trying to promote their steering wheels, boobs you could deploy Hoverhands and pose with, and/or boobs handing out freebies.
ECTS didn’t last long after 2001. They tried something different with it for a couple of years, making it more publicly accessible (and allowed children to attend), but by then the big names had stopped attending and with them gone, what was the point?