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The year's events: 2012's Killer Line-up, part three

You probably thought the concrete Q1 release schedule and vapourous-yet-crowded rest of 2012 was enough, but the fun does not stop with a few new games. Check out our event calendar and book your annual leave now.

Beyond the opening months, 2012 brings us an event schedule as crowded as the release slate. Here's one we missed in our glance over the first quarter - The Independent Games Festival. Now in its 14th year, the IGF runs as part of GDC Prime, and aims to be gaming's equivalent of Sundance, highlighting a segment of the industry of growing importance. This year, the awards ceremony goes down on March 7, and you'll be able to visit the showcase until March 9. In addition to these crowd-pleasers, the Independent Games Summit will be held on March 5 and 6, giving developers a chance to share and explore issues uniquely relevant to indie gaming.

March isn't done there, as we're expecting the annual BAFTA Video Game Awards. The British industry is one of the oldest and strongest in the world, and its premiere red carpet event is highly respected. Stay tuned for more details of this over the coming months.

Moving into April, PAX East is sure to bring its usual jubilation. Like its cousin PAX Prime in September, this Penny Arcade-organised expo brings together gamers for several days of tournaments, panels, and festivities. Plenty of new independent or fringe games make their public debuts here, and increasingly, major publishers and developers send unreleased games for hands-on sessions, release new media, or out new details as part of presentations. Definitely worth tuning into, even if you can't make the trip.

May is somewhat quiet, but the next month brings one of the year's Big Three events - E3 2012, scheduled for June 5-7. Although 2011's event was thin on surprises, E3 is the venue of choice for showcasing the rest of the year's games - and beyond - and its importance to retails and trade can't be overstated. Expect the usual avalanche of new media, a few nice surprises, and lots and lots of dates attached to heretofore nebulous releases over the end-of-year season.

E3 is also the traditional home of new hardware reveals and debuts, and we're expecting a massive one this year. Nintendo has promised to fully detail the Wii U,, giving us a better idea of its capabilities, as well as providing launch details of date, pricing, and with any luck, software line-up. The launch itself, expected later in the year, will be an event in and of itself.

In July, things quieten down briefly, but London's core development event - Develop in Brighton - fills the gap neatly. Along with partner events Evolve and Indie Dev Day - plus the new Develop in Liverpool in November - Develop gives British trade a chance to come together and, usually, speculate wildly on the future of game design, to the entertainment of all.

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Gamescom drew greater than
capacity crowds in 2011.

Towards the end of the month, or sometimes during early August, we are graced by the San Diego Comic Con. This geek paradise has grown in importance to gamers over the last few years, with many developers - themselves likely keen on the comics, anime and sci-fi cultural event - descend to host panels. We get a number of new trailers and announces, particularly when it comes to cross-media efforts. The New York Comic Con, which in recent years has fallen in October, has also begun gaining ground as a venue for announces and reveals.

But August really kicks off the end of year hype by playing host to Gamescom. The second of the big three and arguably Europe's most important gaming event, Gamescom is a fantastic opportunity to check out the holiday releases and talk to their developers months on from carefully controlled E3 builds and demos. Media comes pouring out every year, and the show's energy means it is widely held to be one of the best shows of the year. The action takes place this year between August 15 and 18. GDC Europe takes place alongside, and while not as well-covered as GDC Prime thanks to the mass pile-on across the road at Gamescom, is a great place to spot growing trends.

In mid to late September, Asia plays its trump card. Japan is often considered the spiritual home of modern gaming, even if tastes have diversified beyond local fare, and the Tokyo Game Show is the number one destination for foreign access to the country's development scene. With few exceptions, this is where Japan's major publishers spill their news and reveals, and increasingly, western publishers are fronting up with new builds and demos, too.

In late September, we're justifiably proud to be tangentially associated with Eurogamer Expo. Britain's home-grown talent is such that a full schedule of triple-A panels and presentations could be easily filled, but that doesn't stop Japanese and US developed from flying in to nab a spot. It's the UK's best chance to try out all the holiday games before they hit stores - and often in better shape than at previous events.

All in all, it's looking like another chock-a-block year full of gaming goodness; we hope you'll be with us every step of the way.


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