By Matt Peckham
June 18, 2015

The Electronic Entertainment Expo began in the mid-’90s as a humdrum trade show for publishers to hash out deals with retailers. Now the annual Los Angeles event, known as E3, lures gamers by the thousands, and it’s “when the big surprises are revealed,” as Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé puts it. The biggest one this year? How gaming tech is helping revolutionize consumer tech more broadly. Here are three key trends.

TOYS THAT COME TO LIFE

Chips and sensors are already remaking household items ranging from lightbulbs to house keys. Now it’s toys too. Nintendo and Activision announced a deal to create a new line of physical toys that can communicate wirelessly with console games.

REALISTIC VIRTUAL REALITY

Proponents believe the technology will revolutionize everything from education to medicine. For the time being, games are still the best proof of concept. Microsoft showed off a holographic version of Minecraft using its Hololens device (above), and Sony touted its Morpheus hardware for PlayStation.

BLOCKBUSTER SMARTPHONE APPS

Mobile phones are already at the center of our lives. But now console-game makers are also relying on them to promote upcoming titles. Publisher Bethesda wowed fans by releasing an iPhone and Android game tie-in to its hotly anticipated Fallout 4.

Write to Matt Peckham at matt.peckham@time.com.

This appears in the June 29, 2015 issue of TIME.

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