Gaming enthusiasts know about gaming expos such as Electronic Entertainment Expo, Penny Arcade Expo and GamesCom. For those living in Southeast Asia, it’s very tough to attend any of these grandstanding events due to travel and lodging costs. How would you justify a US$4K plus across-the-Pacific trip for less than a week, let alone three days?
Don’t fret though. Southeast Asia is going to have its own equivalent in the next few months. Enter GameStart, which is an upcoming English language video game expo where gamers from Singapore and all around the region can check out the latest in gaming and game culture.
The event will happen this year on October 25 and October 26 at Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
One of the companies that will be showing off its latest games and products for the event is Sony Computer Entertainment Asia. Other related sponsors include St Games Cafe (a console gaming cafe brand), Neo Tokyo Project (pop culture solutions agency), Xmashed Gear (T-shirt designer company), and Red Bull (energy drink company).
Rounding up the event so far is a guest appearance by Australian cosplay professional Yasemin Arslan. She is known for being the live version model of Borderlands 2’s Lilith the Siren. More publishers and guests will be announced in the coming months.
Why a games show in Southeast Asia? Organising body Eliphant, led by Zombits’ Co-founder Elicia Lee, told e27 that the region is ready and hungry for a consumer show that covers all things gaming and across all platforms. She draws inspiration from the aforementioned Western gaming trade shows where it’s half industry-savvy and half community-driven.
She also has Christopher Ng, former EA Asia Pacific General Manager for 16 years, as a consultant. His notable achievements include launching the successful Southeast Asia game show EA Play back in 2006 to 2008. While GameStart isn’t a main Zombits project, the digital marketing agency will be one of its media channels.
“Everyone is like ‘(Local events such as) Licence2Play didn’t make it; why are you doing this?’,” she recalled a past conversation with one of her associates. “It’s something which I’ve always wanted to do at my past company Electronic Arts. I get excited whenever I hear about gaming events such as Licence2Play and TGX, but the thing is I always wanted to see good games show like E3 and GamesCom. You wonder to yourself ‘why can’t we do that here?’,” she said.
Sony Computer Entertainment, Yasemin Arseland and the Neo Tokyo Project are the first wave of exhibitors and guests for GameStart.
Big publishers such as Sony and Microsoft have established a presence here, and Asia is rising up in terms of a budding games industry. Lee commented that even if the industry in Singapore is very small, it can be hard to rally publishers and developers together to be on the same page. “Somehow we’re not cohesive. There are a lot of factors that get in the way (for this sort of event to happen). It all boils down to networking and experience. I might be being a bit ambitious, but I personally believe that I can put together a show that people want to come to,” she added.
While Asia have game expos of its own, they’re tailored only for their native tongue. Tokyo Game Show (TGS) is Japanese-heavy, while the Taipei Game Show is for the Taiwanese audience. “There aren’t any other English-speaking game shows in the region. So I see a gap there for Southeast Asian English-speaking expos, and it’s not just for Singapore. You look at the Philippines and Indonesia; they’re passionate like mad, but there’s nothing good for them there,” said Lee.
Where to go from here Lee said that she will follow the cues set by the already mammoth-sized Anime Festival Asia show, which had humble beginnings back in 2008. “I want GameStart to start off as a small show in Singapore, then make it evolve into a regional show. We have a long-term plan for this, but who knows where it will go from there afterwards?,” Lee noted.
To hit the point home, Lee’s drive to create GameStart is also out of personal passion. “I just want to bring a game show here that I want to attend myself. I can’t afford to buy a plane ticket to go to TGS and E3 every year. Why can’t we have a good quality show over here in Southeast Asia?,” she said.
It’s about time too. Other than industry-focussed shows such as Games Convention Asia (back in 2009) and Casual Connect Asia, there hasn’t been one where both the gaming community and industry experts hang together while showing off their wares and gadgets to the public. GameStart can be that harbinger, if Lee’s experience and know-how is of any indication.