Gadget geeks will gather this week to game, gab and grow.

The first-ever Gaming and Electronics Expo, or GEEX, will take place from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at the Salt Palace. Organizers are expecting up to 10,000 attendees to network, participate in tournaments, pore over exhibits and learn more about their interests through demos, workshops and guest-speaker presentations.

"We've got most of the different types of gaming represented, from Wii to the Xbox," said Marie Bowcut, events coordinator for MediaOne of Utah, the show's organizer. MediaOne handles advertising, production and circulation for the Deseret News and The Salt Lake Tribune.

"There will be all kinds of tournaments. There's also 'Guitar Hero' and Wii for the kids to play. The Air Force is bringing in their simulators so they can jump in there and fly one of the planes up at Hill. There's the latest gadgets for your cell phone, and the latest technology from Best Buy and Costco with respect to TV."

Neumont University will feature a "build your own robot" activity and allow people to create artwork from old computer parts, she said.

GEEX also will have a marketplace and more than 100,000 square feet of exhibit space for video games, TVs, cell phones, home theater equipment and other gadgets. Attendees may bring their own computers and participate in a LAN (local area network) party that will take place around the clock from noon Thursday to 8 p.m. Saturday. The cost is $50.

Tournaments designed for all skill levels and ages are planned, with the top players competing for more than $25,000 in prizes.

The Salt Lake Community College Computer Club will display a collection of consoles used in video-game history, and most will be available for play.

Featured speakers will discuss XNA game development software, game rules, education and careers in the video-game industry, new education programs focused on new media, the future of mobile gaming, the local game industry, how to build a video game, the future of game development and other topics.

Attendees are being encouraged to bring used video games to donate to Hill Air Force Base's "Airman's Attic, " which helps the families of deployed airmen.

The cost is $10 for a one-day pass and $25 for a three-day pass. Students can attend one day for $5 and three days for $15. Details are at www.geexshow.com.

Utah certainly is a player in the video-game industry. A study released in November by the Entertainment Software Association indicated that the state's video-game industry grew by more than 32 percent from 2005 to 2006.

The state had eight game developers and two publishers at the time, employing 477 people, although more than 1,000 others were employed indirectly by companies providing products and services used by those publishers and developers. A current Web site lists 14 developers, publishers and industry organizations in Utah.


E-mail: bwallace@desnews.com