It was real fun and games when CHIPS held its fourth annual Christmas Conference last weekend (October 16).

The conference, held at Redworth Hall, County Durham, attracted such big names in the video games industry as Microsoft, Nintendo, Electronic Arts and Nokia.

More than 100 delegates gathered for a six-hour games fest, where they heard presentations from Electronic Arts, Nokia, Vivendi and Microsoft, which all unveiled the latest games which will be out in time for Christmas.

The highlight of the Microsoft presentation included footage from the games for the new Xbox 360 which will be out in December. Microsoft also displayed an Xbox 360 display pod which will be in stores soon.

The delegates, who included all franchisees, store managers and CHIPS company staff, were then set loose at the stands.

Nokia, Nintendo, Atari, Mad Catz, Computer Bookshops and Buena Vista Games had all brought along their latest products which included Nintendogs for the DS, the latest Nokia games, The Chronicles of Narnia and the GameTrak Golf.

One of the main highlights of the day was the CHIPS Annual Awards. Each winner won an engraved trophy, inscribed store plaque and £250 prize money. Each award was sponsored by a publisher of CHIPS associate and the winners were:

Newcomer of the Year – sponsored by CHIPS Magazine publisher Faragher//jones

CHIPS Stockton – Franchisee Ibby Hussain

Store of the Year – sponsored by Vivendi Universal Games

CHIPS Orpington – Franchisee Dave Jarvis, who scooped the award for the second year running

Employee of the Year – sponsored by Midway

Anthony Wood – CHIPS Warehouse and Logistics Manager

Franchisee of the Year – sponsored by Nintendo

Peter & Trish Hardy of CHIPS Skipton & CHIPS Otley

Next year there will be an additional award, The Best Sony Window Display, sponsored by Sony.

After the day’s conference, everyone was treated to a full Christmas dinner and party, sponsored by Nintendo, Microsoft, Centresoft, Pinnacle and CP Waites.

Team Playstation were on hand with Buzz, Pinnacle brought along X Factor Sing and everyone tried their hand at GameTrack Golf once again, which had fantastic prizes on offer.

“Once again the CHIPS Conference was bigger and better than ever before. Four new stores had opened since last year’s conference so there were more franchisees and we were delighted to have attracted the likes of Nintendo, Buena Vista Games and Nokia for the first time,” said CHIPS Joint MD Don McCabe.

“The aim of the conference is to show our franchisees and staff what will be hot for Christmas and they were delighted to get their hands on the games which have yet to hit the shelves.”

Fellow Joint MD Nik Agar said:”Great product knowledge is one of the main advantages of the CHIPS system and it is great to gain that from the people who actually makes the games and consoles.

“We had nothing but praise from all the publishers who attended and we hope to see them all again next year. We have already started to make plans and once again the event will be even bigger as we have more stores in the pipeline.”

CHIPS has 29 outlets across the country from Edinburgh to Portslade, near Brighton. Each shop buys sells and trades, new and secondhand consoles, games, DVDs and accessories

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