E3 roundup: Mario amiibo, VR headsets and YouTube gaming

and Contact Reporter

Thousands of video game enthusiasts got their first chance to play a broad slate of upcoming video games as the Electronic Entertainment Expo opened Tuesday at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The video game industry's big convention offers a chance for game developers to exhibit new console, smartphone and computer games to reporters, analysts and, for the first time this year, fans. Here are some highlights from Tuesday:

•Nintendo announced that it will turn its iconic Mario character into an amiibo, a figurine that's able to connect to a Wii U gaming console and hand-held gaming devices. The amiibo store data that personalizes game play when hooked up. Nintendo characters Bowser and Donkey King will also be arriving in doll form in September to connect to "Skylanders," a popular kids' game that features dragons, dogs and other creatures. More than 40% of parents in a recent survey by research firm NPD Group said their family owned a plastic toy that "comes to life" digitally.

•Several companies showed off the next frontier in digital technology: virtual reality headsets. At the Virtuix Omni booth, gamers were fitted with eye goggles as they walked on bowl-shaped treadmills. They swirled 360 degrees while aiming mock shotguns at targets seen in a video that played in front of their eyes through the headsets. At the Oculus VR booth, several dozen people waited up to two hours to spend a few minutes in a private room navigating digital spaceships and going through other scenarios seen on headsets from the Facebook-owned company.

•YouTube previewed a website for gaming videos, set to debut this summer, attracting the praise of gamers who appreciated its seamless interface. Game creators, meanwhile, took to a small stage to chat about their work, with YouTube live-streaming the discussions. Across the convention hall, Amazon-owned Twitch, which has been streaming game videos online since 2011, also gave developers a platform to discuss their videos.

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