Note: This article was written by Larval Goh for Sheepy Trilogy.
November 13th to 15th marked the 2nd annual GameStart exhibition, GameStart 2015, which was held at Suntec City Convention Centre Halls 401 and 402. The exhibition was graced by some 17000 gamers who had come to see what upcoming games that developers had in store for them. Some of these gamers were already queuing up to enter through the Hall doors well over an hour before the convention’s starting time.
GameStart Asia with its first event in 2014 marked a milestone in the Singapore and SEA gaming scene in general as it was the first gaming-focused event that allowed gamers in the region to meet the developers that make their favourite games. GameStart 2015 was also huge hit this year as gaming companies big and small came down with their demos, presentations and trailers about their new upcoming games and products and hyped up the crowd with freebies and giveaways. GameStart’s mascot Alyse also showed up; Lilsharlene Jaguar was the one who had worked together with GameStart organizers to put the costume together to wow the crowd at the event. We had a chance to interview her on her cosplay too.
To one side of the venue was the overwhelming Sony Playstation booth. Taking up half the length of the hall and standing at of 2 storeys, the booth was a sight to behold. Housing game demos from a wide variety of titles such as Star Wars Battlefront, Battleborn, Transformers Devastation and many more, the Sony Booth something for everyone to enjoy.
To add on to the hype, Sony had also brought their PSVR equipment for the public to demo. In order to extensively showcase the potential of the PSVR, demos included Hatsune Miku, Summer Lesson, The Kitchen and more. Non-stop queues formed at the side of the Sony booth as people waited their turn to try out Sony’s latest and most prominent piece of gaming technology.
On the other side of the hall was Blizzard who had also set up a 2 storey booth, albeit smaller. Having just hosted Blizzcon 2015, the booth was stocked with exclusive freebies and merchandise from their event which were given away at various channels throughout GameStart. While no Overwatch demos were showcased, the booth was graced by cosplayers dressed as Tracer and Symmetra from Overwatch. Making sure that their fans wouldn’t go home empty handed, Blizzard also gave out free keys to unlock Cho’Gall in Heroes of the Storm(HotS). All that was required of HotS fans to win the key was that they show the staff that they won a HotS AI match using the gaming rigs provided at the booth.
Sitting in the middle of it all was Namco Bandai who had chosen a more secretive approach to their booth. Their whole booth was enclosed and people needed to queue to even enter the booth. After enduring the lengthy wait, gamers who entered the booth were greeted with the sight of a bonfire and a life-sized figure of a protagonist from Dark Souls 3. Of course the main treat was the playstations housing the playable demos of Dark Souls 3. Proving to be as difficult as its predecessors, gamers stood there struggling death after death to explore as much of the map as they could.
However, Dark Souls 3 was not the only thing Namco Bandai had to offer. A formidable man-sized replica of the legendary RX-78 Gundam sits in a corner to mark the coming release of Mobile Suit Gundam: Extreme VS Force, along with the PS Vitas that gamers could pick up to try out the new game. Other demos included Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, Sword Art Online: Game Director’s Edition, and Just Cause 3.
Whether you’re a Star Wars fan or not, one of the must-trys at GameStart 2015 was the Star Wars Battle Pod. This attraction also garnered long-lasting queues as everyone was lining up to see what it had to offer, but it was definitely worth the wait. With its enclosed cabin, concave wrap-around screen surrounding speakers and joystick controls, the arcade machine gave gamers an incredibly immersive experience as they flew through some of the most iconic battles of the Start Wars Universe.
At the front of all these booths was the main stage, where people watched tournaments, music performances, presentations and game trailers. The crowd sat back and watched as gamers battled it out for victory in the Capcom Pro Tour Asia, a Rainbow Six Siege Showmatch and the SEA StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void Anniversary Tournament. The Music duo Gentle Love, consisting of Norihiko Hibino(日比野 則彦) and AYAKI(齋藤 彰希), also came to perform their arrangements of popular video game music.
Geek Culture also had a nostalgic treat for gamers as they had once again set up their Retro DNA section which featured tons of older game consoles and arcade machines. Gamers surrounded the area waiting for a chance to relive some of their first and most memorable gaming experiences. Gaming products from the 1990’s and early 2000’s were also up for sale for gamers to bring back home and reminisce.
Games were not the only thing to show up at the event; Armaggeddon also appeared to show off their newest gaming peripherals, in particular the MKA 11R and MKA 5R keyboards and the Havoc III mouse. Gamers who spent at their booth stood a chance to win a Heroes of the Storm themed MSI gaming laptop.
There were also accessories and art to be found at GameStart. Rachta Lin attracted crowds of video game enthusiasts and art fans to have their favourite characters commissioned on shikishi boards. We managed to sit down and have a chat about her take on GameStart and her art career so far. Other than commissions, she also had copies of her own art projects up for sale at the Liongeeks booth which was also selling artworks from other various artists. Xmashed Gear was also there to sell t-shirts featuring her art, along with many of their own designs as well. Inspired by pop culture and iconic video game imagery, Xmashed Gear’s shirts are chock full of references and inside jokes from video games that are sure to put a smile on your face. Beside Xmashed Gear was Freshly Pressed, who were selling their latest line of socks inspired by the designs of our favourite comic-book superheroes. Offering stylishness and comfort in an affordable package, Freshly Pressed made sure that their customers had a pair of socks to show off the comic-book geek inside them.
One of the bigger booths belonging to a local company was Witching Hour Studios who was showcasing their latest game, Masquerada: Songs and Shadows. Set in a Venetian background, Masquerada aims to intrigue players with its unique gameplay mechanic, fresh artstyle and strong story elements. There were also many other smaller local startup booths showcasing their own creations such as Reza Ninja and Aethercraft. Bringing with them hidden gems of innovation and creativity, these booths captured the attention of the crowd with their various products and received plenty of attention and feedback.
Despite it being primarily a gaming event, cosplayers and photographers alike were very enthusiastic to attend in full force. Lower levels of the convention centre were quickly lined with photography gear and swarms of cosplayers flooded the floor. Characters from various anime shows and video games could be seen both inside the halls and along the walkways. Neo Tokyo Project was also there to organize the cosplay runway as well as to bring in cosplay guests Junkers Cosplay Inc., Tuna and Acanthastar Cosplay, who was the one cosplaying Tracer. Hosted on Sunday 15 Nov, the cosplay runway gave exhibition-goers in cosplay to stand on stage with the 3 prominent cosplay guests as they showed off their costume and props. At the end of the runway, favourites were picked out by the cosplay guests to received commendations and prizes for their amazing work.
Once again, GameStart 2015 was a huge hit as it proves to be truly unique in that we now have an event in Singapore that caters largely to gamers by giving them a place to see nothing but gaming related content. We can be sure that there is a piece of video game culture for everyone to look forward to experiencing at GameStart. We wish GameStart many more successful events in the future.