South East Asia’s Premier Gaming event GameStart Asia returns for its 4th outing with GameStart 2017 at the Suntec Convention Centre Halls 401, 402 and 403. With more floor space, returning big names and interesting additions all in the name of fun, POPCulture Online’s Kenneth Wong walks the ground of the event that continues to make gaming events great again in Singapore.
PlayStation returns this year with an even bigger floor space compared to previous years. From showcasing the highly anticipated Grand Turismo Sports using the powerful PlayStation 4 Pro to a playable version of the upcoming Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, you know they are not holding back this year. Add in Playstation VR stations and the continued support for this year’s SEA Major and it is all Blue for the console scene this year at GameStart 2017.
Another returing name to GameStart is Bandai Namco Entertainment Asia who also takes up a sizeable space at GameStart 2017. Bringing down Dragon Ball FighterZ and Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker, both unreleased yet, also drew a crowd to the booth for some hands-on time.
One name that surprisingly didn’t turn up was Microsoft especially with the recent launch of their XBox One X, their most powerful console to date. Hopefully they will make a come back soon to even the console odds.
eSports is well represented this year at GameStart 2017 with the South East Asia Major drawing a huge crowd at the event hall. New this year is also the SEA Mobile Major which continues to draw a huge following, both competitors and fans alike. Even though diverse in the game titles, it is heartening to see everyone come together in the spirit of competition and having fun at the same time.
As RZR Xian shared during the recent SEA Summit, we do need to see more support for the local gamers to experience what a tournament feels like and this is a good place to start. Even with the exposure of eSports now in mainstream media, the conservative Asian mindset is still an obstacle but hopefully with big events like GameStart showing continued support, this will soon change.
One of the most poisonous place at the event halls this year is the Tabletop gaming area where this writer had to fight off the temptation to take out his credit card and buy a new set of space marines. From learning the game to getting your hands dirty with painting a set of Warhammer models, it is also nice to see more people learning about the game.
If throwing dice and measuring tapes are not your thing, the Tabletop area also brings the good old Dungeon & Dragons to the masses. Thanks to the good people at Neo Tokyo Project, experienced dungeon crawlers and new adventurers alike get to experience the amount of creativity a dungeon master can come out with. Magic The Gathering also makes an appearance where you can not only learn to play the game thanks to the volunteers there but also pick up a deck or two, or three or ten. Just remember not to fall into the trap of one more deck and your wallet will be safe.
Those looking to bring home some phat loot will also be pleased to know that Doujin Market is back again with nicely spaced out booths and walk ways to allow you to survey the area before going in for the purchase. Familiar names such as Rachta Lim, Daiyaku and Purrballs are in attendance so you better keep your wallet safe. Oh and if you think your wallet is safe after walking out empty handed, there is still everyone’s favourite Xmashed Gear waiting for you. Adding on to their poisonous collection are new additions inspired by current trends like “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner” and more.
Even if you survived that wallet trap, there is always a chance to pick up great gaming accessories at the Armaggeddon. From mouse pads to keyboards and casing fans, this is going to be one potential wallet trap considering their hard to beat pricing. I would dare say its heaven for the gamer to make his or her first step up to better gaming peripherals from the standard issue keyboard and mouse without breaking the bank.
No popular culture event is complete without the both the local cosplay community and overseas guest adding to the event experience. From mean looking weapons to sweet smiles, I am always thankful that majority would pose for the camera regardless if it’s a DSLR that cost an organ or handphone camera.
Just remember that Cosplayers are people too and treat them with due respect you would of a fellow human being. Yes, there have been many negative incidents before at other events so let us try to have a drama free GameStart 2017.
One addition that deserves special mention this year is The Drinkery. While it is a little pricy if you are going to compare with the canteen in your school, I got to admit that the temptation was too strong to resist. Sure the coke cost lesser but why drink coke when you can have a mana and experience potion and some eggs to level up? Plus if you need something to fuel you up before your next Street Fighter match, Sagat’s Champion Thai Rice Bowl might just be the dish for you.
GameStart has definitely evolved in terms of content since they first started. From unreleased playable versions which saw long queues, bringing in the eSports element and now a large area dedicated to Tabletop gaming, it is always going to be a surprise what Elicia and Team has instore for fans each year. Who knows what else their creative minds will come out with, but as long as we have someone who knows the heartbeat of a gamer, it will always be a good surprise.
Additional Photos by Alex Tan, Ken Koh and Nicholas Kwan.
© POPCulture Online 2017