How many of you were at the Gamestart Asia this weekend? Southeast Asia’s premier game convention is now onto it’s third year and it’s back with more jazz than ever before! Held at the Suntec Convention Hall, the convention was packed to the brim with performances, lucky draws and tournaments to entertain and excite it’s visitors. Here is a short entry of my day at Gamestart Asia.
I arrived in the mid afternoon of Saturday to enjoy the event. While not an avid gamer myself, I enjoyed the lively vibe, excitable tournament narrating and funky neon lights of the convention halls. Before I headed into the convention halls though, I made it a point to take a few shots of the lovely cosplayers camping outside at the corridors first. After all, the full length windows at level three of the convention corridor always casted perfect natural lighting.
Since Gamestart was a Gaming event, the amount of games related cosplayers were significantly higher than the other events. One of the first Game cosplayer I spotted was Ahri from League of Legends.
An entourage of Spidermans were also spotted! Is that a bokeh-ed Ken (Street Fighter) I see at the far left corner ?!
There were a lot of Mystic Messenger cosplayers too, much to my delight!
I spotted a really cute Yoosung Cosplayer near the end of the day with a packet of chocolate milk – which is hilarius if you played the game. I think I traumatised the cosplayer slightly when I walked up to her vengefully out of the blue and demanded to know why "did you reject me?!". I was referring to Yoosung in the game of course. The damn boy ended my 2nd game by telling me he didn't really like me and the game ended because I couldn’t get enough likability points! Hell hath no fury like a woman’s scorn, hahaha !
I also spotted a familiar face amongst the crowd – it’s Miu with her bodyguard! Look at how adorable she is!
Miu is a vietnamese cosplayer most notable for her cosplay of Shimakaze from the Kantai Collection. She has been cosplaying for more than 3 years and shot to prominence quickly with her feminine looks and adorable smile. She is also a talented illustrator who draws for mobile games.
I also spotted a pair of really adorable Ram and Rem from Re:Zero! I know this is random but I absolutely love their pastel coloured wigs! And the girls practically looked like twins!
The amount of Touken Ranbu cosplayers turnout were lesser than I expected given how the game was one of the featured games this year. The executive producer of the mega hit Nitroplus game ; Mr Yuto Hanazawa was also one of the invited guest for the event and had a panel on saturday.
Sadly, I missed the panel and only managed to snap a few pictures of Mr Yuto Hanazawa posing with Touken Ranbu Cosplayers at the bottom of the stage. Mr Hanazawa must have charmed the crowd with his panel as the girls behind me squealed continuously over how cute and boyish looking this producer was, haha.
Time to enter the convention halls! Coming in the middle of the afternoons meant minimal queue hehe \0/!
The Trade-in Counter was just beside the entrance and allowed anyone to bring in their preloved electronic devices to exchange for event vouchers.
An impromptu Tekken 7 match was happening on the main stage when I arrived. Game designer for Bandai Namco Entertainment Asia’s Tekken Project ; Michael Murray was on stage and had a panel session before it.
The session concluded with a few friendly matches against enthusiastic fans on the floor who were jumping to be selected. The crowd cheered enthusiastically as they partake in the excitement of the spar along with the players – evoking rounds after rounds of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’. I love it when a performance on stage is capable of involving the crowd, it makes me feel like the group of strangers came together as one to celebrate something.
The XBox booth which was just beside the main stage attracted a large amount of interest. Every single game demonstration/trial station was packed with enthused players.
Bandai Namco also had a presence in the convention this year with featured titles such as ‘Sword Art Online – Hollow Realisation’ and ‘ Tales of Berseria ’. I wasn’t able to peek into any of them because the booth was too packed. But a friend who did was pretty riled up to get himself a copy of the Sword Art Online Game.
The FunPlus Booth which was closer to the back was colourful and appealing. The booth was also one of The Quest, an Adventure hunting game’s game stop. The game basically sends visitors around the convention hall to complete specific tasks in exchange for goodies and a lucky draw chance.
These two attendees were facing off each other in a game of Dot Arena while the host narrates the fight. I’m particularly amused player ‘Blue checkered shirt’ is playing with a cup of starbucks in his hand haha. Can’t say no to caffeine , eh?
As the official Cosplay partner and curator of the Cosplay Runway – The Neo Tokyo Project also had a booth presence in the event. The booth was selling Cosplay prints and merchandises of the Cosplay guests – Okageo from America and Miu from Vietnam.
Lunarworks studio, one of the sponsor for the Cosplay runway competition had a Japanese themed studio set up for visitors to enjoy. The quaint little booth was expectedly, flooded with cosplayers and photographers who were more than happy to ultilise the set up.
Doujin market, the largest pop-culture inspired art fair in Singapore continued to celebrate independent artists and creator-owned content by giving creators a space to shine at Gamestart this year. While booths were limited, the interest of the visitors weren’t the least bit dampened as visitors thronged the booths and pored over the merchandises.
Playstation had the biggest booth this year! With a shift in their business direction, the booth this year focus on fostering the growth of eSports in Singapore and the region by playing host to a string of tournaments such as the South East Asia Major 2016 – the largest console tournament in the region.
The Armageddon booth was busy throwing freebies to the crowd when I walked passed the massive booth. The crowd weren’t the least abashed in expressing their interest and location when the host asked which direction he should throw the exclusive merchandises to. While everyone eyeballed the mousepad that had spinned fractiously out of range, I chuckled at the passing comment of the guy behind me remarking “wah.. if I walk pass and gets hit on the head by a mousepad hor…”. I feel you, dude.
Special gaming keyboards and accessories bundles were on sale beside the Armaggeddon booth. I’m gagged so hard internally. While the neon rainbow keyboard lights matched the LED deco on the ceiling, it reminded me too much of the “Ah Beng” culture in the early 90s. *Cues techno music, sharp comb and rainbow coloured Nokia phones 8D*
Another notable booth was the NAJ (in association with No Average Joe) booth that grabbed my attention with it’s massive backdrop and retro-styled mini arcade machines.
Visitors can also be seen getting on with their custom-made mini arcade machines – which is beyond adorable by-the-way. Made to evoke all your retro childhood memory goodness, these little sets are made of wood and was available for pre-order at an exclusive convention price of $399. If you are interested in these machines, check out it’s crowdfunding campaign over at Indiegogo now.
I managed to catch guitarist Az Samad on stage and stayed till the second song before I ran off for my scheduled interview session with the cosplay guests.
Other than the big names in the industry, Gamestart also provided a stage for Indie game developers and startups in Founders Base.
My experience could have been hampered by my own hastiness but as a non-gamer, I found it difficult to absorb myself into the event and it’s products. I understand that I’m not the target demographic here and it’s nobody’s business to teach a newbie like me how to game. But it’s easy to feel overwhelmed in the convention hall and end up feeling a little detached despite tournaments, lucky draws and friendly matches happening all around me.
As the convention hall was dimly lit, trying to figure out where to get help or what I can experience at a particular booth can sometimes be daunting. Even though Gamestart Asia was an event to experience the latest entertainment contents, both commercial and indie, I left the halls not having laid hands on any. Needless to say, I stepped away from the convention not anymore enthusiastic about gaming than I was before. Which is a pity given the conducive environment and compelling contents available to excite a “pre-gamer” like myself.
I humbly implore future exhibitors to implement features, services or signage to actively reach out to timid visitors like myself who have no experience in gaming. Staffs stationed at the booths can be trained to better engage visitors, encourage interest and motivate desires for their products. While it takes a lot of effort to execute, I think it would be a wonderful ideal to work towards, beyond gaining awareness amongst existing gamers.
Before I conclude my entry, let me share some of the awesome cosplayers I spotted at the event hall!
Megar thanks to all the cosplayers for their amazing work as usual and for posing for my camera! Tag your friend if you see their cosplay pictured here ^_^!