The largest video game expo in the world, gamescom, officially starts this Wednesday, when the massive Koelnmesse opens its doors to the press and trade members of the gaming industry. The venue is the fifth largest convention centre on the planet, and has 284, 000 m² of indoor exhibition space. That’s excluding the 100, 000 m² of outside space that normally become festooned with cosplayers, food stalls and all manner of geek-related entertainment. By Thursday, gamescom is open to the public and the show runs until the end of this coming weekend.

I’ve been in Cologne since Sunday and it’s been awesome to watch the city gear itself up for the expo. Many think that E3 is the one and only gaming trade fair, but what makes gamescom so special is that it’s also open to the public, and as a result the local excitement is palpable. Cologne being the size that it is (it’s tiny compared to E3’s host city Los Angeles) transforms into a gaming mecca, with billboards and subway posters all advertising the AAA titles that’ll be on display during the show. So far I’ve spotted posters for Dishonored, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria. For someone who is into gaming, you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world right now.

This morning I took a walk to the entrance of Koelnmesse, only to find the place relatively quiet. A few workmen were wheeling scaffolding into the building, but aside from them the steps leading up to the main reception area were empty. That will be short-lived; come Wednesday the place will be inundated by journalists, developers and PR types. By Thursday the public gets to join in, and by the weekend you’ll hardly be able to move through the show floor thanks to the crowds.

The day before gamescom is traditionally a Press Preview day, and NAG has a number of invite-only events to attend throughout the day. The first one starts at 10:30AM (one of the great things about the gaming industry is that things don’t start very early in the morning) and from then on it’s pretty much back-to-back press events hosted by various publishers. These press events can be likened to an amuse-bouche in a restaurant: a tiny sample of what’s to come from companies like Electronic Arts, Sony and Capcom.

Keep an eye on the website for the latest hands-on and previews fresh out of Gamescom. If you want bite-sized morsels of gamescom flavoured shenanigans then follow me on Twitter. Don’t forget to keep an eye on NAG’s Facebook Page for photos from the show. This week is about to get incredibly busy!

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