The geeks are inheriting the Earth — or at least part of Salt Lake City next weekend.

For three days, starting Thursday, the Salt Palace Convention Center will host the Gaming and Electronics Expo, or GEEX, an event that organizers say will showcase "the latest and greatest in video games and electronics."

MediaOne of Utah officials hatched GEEX after seeing an online news report that claimed Utah households were the gaming capital of the United States. (According to the report, nearly a third of Utah households have at least one game console.)

So, GEEX was "a no-brainer," said Marie Bowcut, director of events and community relations for MediaOne, the expo's major sponsor. "Once we saw that report, the question really wasn't why would we host a gaming expo, it was, 'Why wouldn't we?"'

John Sloan, MediaOne's vice president of interactive media, agreed, saying that this year's GEEX event will be "the first of many."

Of course, Bowcut and Sloan both said they were also thrilled to see the continuing popularity of Local Area Network (LAN) tournaments at the University of Utah.

Using wireless connections, participants linked their consoles and competed in a variety of games. And one of these tournaments attracted hundreds of gamers with their own personal computers or game systems.

And not too coincidentally, GEEX will also host its own LAN party, which will run throughout the entire GEEX expo. At press time, more than 70 gamers had signed up to participate.

For those who don't want to tote their systems, daily tournaments at the expo will pit combatants in "Call of Duty," "Fight Night," "Gears of War," "Halo" and other games. And Bowcut said these tournaments are open to all ages and skill levels.

But GEEX is not limited to game tournaments. An exhibit hall will boast more than 100,000 square feet of vendor displays, featuring digital cameras, home theater systems (televisions, stereos and speakers), computer hardware and software, and other electronics products.

Workshops, panel discussions and interactive learning sessions will feature guest speakers, such as officials from sponsor Neumont University, and Josh Jones (Sensory Sweep Studios), Mike Nielsen (Wahoo/Ninjabee Studios) and Shane Smit (Disney Interactive Studios).

Due to some scheduling difficulties, a "Battle of the Bands" sponsored by local radio station X-96 had to be canceled, but GEEX will now feature a live recording of the "Geek Show Podcast," hosted by X-96's Kerry Jackson.

If you go

What: GEEX Gaming and Electronics Expo

Where: Salt Palace Convention Center, 100 S. West Temple

When: July 17-19

How much: $10 one-day passes ($5 for students)

Phone: 236-6014

E-mail: [email protected]