Game Start 2014 Show Report - The way forward for Southeast Asia
Early start for Game Start
The excitement building up weeks and days before the event was palpable. Most of our friends had heard about it and were going too, other websites and even the mainstream media were talking about it constantly. Social media was exploding with photos of the massive preparation from the organisers. Long lines were expected, cosplayers out in force, gamers frothing at the mouth to get their hands on unreleased games and the opportunity to grab swag.
We were pumped.
Game Start 2014 was finally here for two days, bringing together for the first time a purely video gaming centric experience and crowd for Southeast Asia held in Singapore. We had been tracking the event since it was announced, impressed with its core tenets and aspirations to bring the larger community of gamers together like the venerable events PAX, E3, Tokyo Game Show, GamesCom and others to our very own backyard.
So when Saturday morning rolled around, we were fired up to be front and centre. We were to be the boots on the ground for the OMGeek community, covering for the first time an event of this magnitude in our region.
We made our way to Suntec convention centre on an average and sunny Saturday morning in Singapore. The day started at 8:30 for us with a breakfast meeting nearby to put together a battleplan. Bacon and eggs it was, breakfast of champions to set us up for the long day of covering the show floor and event.
Media registration was set for 9:30 and we arrived on the dot. As we approached the entrance, we could already see crowds stretching through the entire floor, at this point it must have been close to 500 or more people already in line, sitting and waiting. The official opening time was actually 12 noon so these guys were pretty early to say the least. After we secured our media passes at the registration desk, we decided to head to the front of the line and find out about the guys who made it first.
So we interviewed a couple of them and apparently they had been around the area since 12 midnight the night before. They weren’t actually allowed within the Suntec premises at that time so they had to wait elsewhere, but were the first to walk in and get in line when the queues opened at 7am. Gotta admire that dedication for a first time event, but of course the prospect of getting to be one of 300 to get amazing gaming swag was a great incentive. The sense of community spirit was strong and everyone was excited to be there despite their apparent lack of sleep. We were impressed with how positive everyone was about the event.
The show kicked off with main sponsor Sony and a senior VP thanking the fans and congratulating the efforts of indie developers who have been the backbone of the PS4 ecosystem in the region. Sony really invested in Gamestart and it showed; huge stand, great swag, and their latest games on PS4. The close of the opening speech by the Founder of Game Start Elicia Lee saw Sony sign an agreement with Nanyang Polytechnic for a 3 year extension of the PlayStation Incubation Studio Singapore to help indie developers, which means we’re going to see a lot more from Sony in Singapore moving forward.
The booths and atmosphere
The atmosphere was electric. Maybe it’s because we’ve always wanted to go to PAX, E3 and the other huge events in North America and Europe and we were finally right in the thick of the gaming scene in Southeast Asia. The booths, screens and stage all had that high quality feel and build that you’d expect from the big trade shows. For a launch event, we thought that the show floor was of a good size and professionally managed by the exhibitors and organisers. It was mood lighting throughout the show floor so all of the LED screens really stood out, we thought they were going to turn the lights up after the reveal but it was set up like a nerdy nightclub for the whole event, we liked that.
Our favourite highlights
In our opinion, Evolve absolutely stole the show and the 90 minute queue to get in the play area could attest to that. Evolve’s booth, organised by its publisher 2k had 10 gaming pcs set up in a LAN/multiplayer configuration for players to come in and play a single round with 4 hunters versus 1 monster.
From the developers of the Left 4 Dead franchise, the game had all the polish and coop gameplay you’d expect from Turtle Rock Studios. These guys have had years of experience to nail down what makes a coop game great, and what fans want in a shooter.
Racing sims! Project cars stood out and we were all over the racing simulator set ups at every chance we got. We were very impressed with the feel of Project Racing and Drive Club, it was great to sit and be able to burn rubber at top speed without knowing the track. Steve had to play once just to get the feel of the car then went for a couple more runs at full pelt. These were the featured racing games on show and both were worthy, it really impressed on Steve the need for some force feedback.In fact, after the event, we headed straight to Funan IT Mall where Steve picked up the Logitech G27 for his own set up at home. How about that for some successful marketing? Perhaps Logitech should have a booth next year?
At the indie booth, a pleasant surprise came about when Mitch pointed out a game called Velocibox developed by Shawn Beck of Shawn Beck Games. At the event, Shawn was a one man show who gave us a rundown of his incredibly awesome but tough game which reminded us of the popular but also hard to beat Super Hexagon.Velocibox is a hardcore twitch game where you have to maneuver your box through obstacles at insanely high speeds. It’s fun, unforgiving and also addictive. Oh, and we absolutely loved the clean, minimalist aesthetic; white and orange of the game. What we really appreciated was when we asked him to play the game, he obliged to school us several times and at hardcore mode to boot. It was one hell of a playthrough seeing the developer of this impossibly hard game just breezing through, meanwhile you had us lasting about 30 seconds per round. Seriously it’s a great game and you should check it out. It’s currently available on Steam and is in development for mobile devices. We’ll be looking more closely into the game so expect some coverage on it in the coming weeks.
On the hardware side of things, we stopped by Aftershock PC and spoke to Marketing Director Joe Wee who gave us a rundown of their latest offering, the S-15 gaming laptop on Nvidia’s latest 900 series GPUs. This model in particular was rocking the 970m which is very power efficient and powerful for ultra graphics settings at 1080p running at well over 60fps on BF4 and at over 40fps on Crysis 3! It was pretty amazing to see so much graphical firepower on a laptop. As pc gamers and system builders, we love the idea of bringing the customisation aspect of your desktop to a laptop. Gone are the days of weighing the pros and cons of different brands and offerings. With Aftershock, think of your budget and select what you want. For gamers and enthusiasts this is the way forward.
We had a blast talking tech and computer hardware with Joe who mentioned they are in fact working on bringing custom made desktop PC’s in the near future so stay tuned for that. We can’t wait to see what they come up with. They’re a homegrown company, and we’re delighted to see that their top notch customer service that everyone raves about has brought them continued success and respect from the pc gaming community in Singapore and the region.
Retro gaming was also out in full force with Versus City, a local Singapore based video game club house that focuses on old school consoles and arcade cabinets. At the event they were throwing it back, way back with the likes of the Atari 2600, Sega MegaDrive, Sega DreamCast, Super NES, Gamecube and a lot more. The reception was fantastic, with old and young gamers flocking to their booth and playing games from the 80s and 90s. For us old fogies, seeing this was an absolute blast from the past!
In the words of GladOS from one of our favourite games ever, Portal, this was a triumph, huge success. For the larger community, the gamers, the fans, the publishers, the developers both indie and triple A because it finally brought us all together in one place. We could be our nerdy and gamer selves, finally meet each other in person, press the flesh, network and get to see first hand the community of gamers that is only growing larger in Singapore and the rest of the region.
We have high hopes for Game Start 2015 and would love to see more booths and games featured on the PC platform, and hopefully more pc gaming hardware vendors. We believe that the Evolve booth showcased the strength in numbers and passion of the pc gaming community. Another interesting idea we think that could work would be something that Quake Con and Dreamhack put together fairly regularly, a BYOC (bring your own computer) LAN event where gamers can interact and play together in a giant LAN party the likes Singapore and Southeast Asia have never seen before. As the first of many, I’m sure Game Start’s possibilities for the fledgling gaming community in the region are endless. And we can’t wait to see more and be a part of it!
Were you at Game Start last weekend? What did you think of it, and our impressions? Leave a comment and let us know.