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'Guitar Hero' rocks D6

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick talks about the rise of casual gaming and whether we will all need virtual reality helmets anytime soon. Coming up: a demo of the next Guitar Hero.

CARLSBAD, Calif.--D6 is getting ready to rock.

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick is speaking at the conference here, with host Kara Swisher promising the keynote will wrap up with a star-studded demo of the next Guitar Hero.

Paula Abdul was the 'judge' for a demo of the new Guitar Hero World Tour. Dan Farber/CNET

Before that, though, Swisher and Kotick are discussing where gaming is now and where it is headed. Kotick noted that the current machines have broadened the notion of console gaming, each in its own way.

The PlayStation 3 has brought cinematic video quality to gaming, adding the opportunity to have emotional ties with the characters, he said. The Xbox 360 added deep online collaborative gaming abilities, while the Wii's physical interface is bringing in new and different groups of people into gaming.

Kotick also noted that the current models have succeeded in bringing Internet to the TV even after many other efforts, such as Media Center PCs, have failed.

Eventually, there will be a $99 box that takes the notion even more broadly, he said. "That will be the device that is likely to bring the Internet to the television."

Asked by Swisher whether we will all need virtual reality helmets to play games, Kotick said we are probably safe at least until the next generation of hardware comes with more processing power.

Skateboarder Tony Hawk competes during a demo of Guitar Hero World Tour. Dan Farber/CNET

Swisher also pushed him on why there is so much carnage in video games. "We try to stick to violence against small animals," he said, adding that half the gaming population is over 18. That said, he noted that his rival's Grand Theft Auto did $500 million in sales out of the gate.

Lastly, Swisher asked Kotick, a Yahoo board member, about l'affaire Microhoo.

"Jerry (Yang) and Sue (Decker) are going to be here later today," he said. "I hate to steal their thunder."

He joked that he had tried one method of playing peacemaker. "I tried to get the four of them to play the new Guitar Hero together."

Update: Kotick brought out American Idol judge Paula Abdul to judge a competition for Guitar Hero World Tour, the new version due out this fall that adds drums and a microphone (a la Rock Band). Among the contestants: Skateboarder Tony Hawk.

Click here for full coverage of the D: All Things Digital conference.