“ASIA’S MOST COMPREHENSIVE Games Expo” is a large claim to live up to. Imagine, if you will, patronising a dessert parlour and ordering their signature sundae, reputably the best in the region. This is no mere bowl of scooped ice cream, no ma’am – this is the finest selection of the smoothest and creamiest there is. Accompanied by slices of bananas so fresh, they conjure images of a cool, tropical paradise; topped by a paper-thin wafer and a bright-red cherry hand-picked from a farm with a pedigree fit for beloved royalty. This is the crown jewel of sundaes.
Your anticipation threatens to overwhelm you: heart pounding, palms sweating, mouth salivating. You adjust the collar of your top; suddenly aware that it’s unbearably hot and stuffy. Getting dizzy, you lightly clench your jaw and wonder how much longer you’d have to suffer this wait. It takes all the effort in the world to resist standing up and banging your fists on the table, loudly exclaiming “ice cream!” to no one in particular, an idiotic grin plastered to your face. Everything sounds loud. Too loud. Bum. Bum. BUM. BUM.
“Excuse me?” The words cut through the miasmic fog in your head like a hot knife through sexy, warm butter. Looking up – painfully aware of the perspiration beading on your forehead – you see the prettiest waitress there is this side of the galaxy. Her cute features accentuated by the most heart-melting of smiles, she daintily scoops up something from her serving tray and lowers it on your table, saying something you’re too distracted to hear before finishing with a bigger smile and one flourish of a curtsey.
Radiant warmth suffuses you as you watch her sway back to the kitchen. Pleased with the new developments, you turn to face the new item on your table only to have everything you know to be good and true in this world collapse, crumbling like that couple’s chocolate brownie over there. “No no no no”, you moan to yourself, “this is no sundae.” There, in that glass bowl, mocking in its very existence lay a single scoop of half-melted ice-cream, unceremoniously spotted with diced nuts and an off-centre cherry that was probably harvested off an irradiated field.
As the despair consumes your very soul, you grab hold of the table and flip it, tears rolling down your anguished face – the spitting image of a Japanese meme. “THIS IS NOT WHAT I WAS PROMISED!”
JUST AS HOW that had very little to do with anything TGX, so did TGX had very little to do with games. Unless you’re telling me that Dragon Nest, eSports competitions and fibre broadband is all that Asia has to offer, which is a blatantly ridiculous notion. Singapore alone has much more than this paltry offering, and while I was pleased and thankful for all the booths and companies that showed up, the overall event was highly disappointing.
I do believe I’m not the only one in this. Stepping out of the convention hall, I already overhear other unhappy visitors commenting about the distinct lack of games; in fact, it was more of a cosplay convention if anything else.
Again, I’m not overlooking those that showed up: free MMORPG Dragon Nest; gaming gear Armageddon; retailer Playworks; the GameBox collective and other small development studios; the list goes on. There are also the high-profile eSport competition qualifiers too, which, frustratingly, didn’t get as much on-site coverage as I was hoping for. But the prime reason any gamer would want to turn up at a “gaming expo” is to see and try, you guessed it, games. And where were they?
I really don’t want to speculate too much, seeing how I don’t know the reasons and decisions made by the organising committee that oversaw this. Was it a lack of funds? Time? Or perhaps nobody within Singapore or Asia wanted to participate? Going by the banners and flyers, there definitely seemed to be no shortage of official backing.
There was a games developer conference held behind closed-doors and while I understand the need to do so away from the noise and attention, where were the devs and other studios on the show floor? This is a great chance for fans to meet devs, community managers or other representatives in-person. We may not have any publicly known big-name studios yet (and thus no starry-eyed fans), but if they’re never featured then we’d never know, wouldn’t we? Showcase works or just plain raise awareness! Like what Reversal Studios did, giving out flyers for their upcoming game, Monsters Fight Back. And what about the big publishers with offices and studios right here in this country?
Honestly, Singapore has been slowly growing in the gaming community but if this keeps up, it’s not going anywhere else. I’m perfectly fine with being charged an admissions fee if it’ll cover the costs of having a presentable, “comprehensive” games expo. Start small, do it well and we’ll eventually see the successes that STGCC and AFA are currently having.
WE CAN’T COMPARE ourselves to Western gaming conventions, especially considering the space limitations as well as the prospects of flying over twelve hours to get here. Nor can we compare to Japan’s Tokyo Game Show, with its thriving local games industry. But we can make something worth remembering. Show people a good reason to come to Singapore for a games convention, guarantee it’ll be worthwhile and they’ll come by the droves.
Also: don’t forget that gaming isn’t limited to video games – there’s a whole different world waiting to be explored through analogue gaming, especially now with its increasing popularity worldwide. I guess for now I’ll have to thank the Omnissiah for the wonders of the internet and HD video-streaming. I can’t wait to ‘see’ what TGS and Eurogamer Expo have in-store this month.
Mayo: There really was a horde of cosplayers there. Good to see it stronger than ever, although I was too depressed at how the gaming felt more like a side-event here to take more photos of them. The set will be up on FB when my new fibre connetion goes active and I don’t have to resort to a sad, tethered mobile.