GameStart is Southeast Asia’s Premier Game Convention and in case you don’t know, it is one of the most awaited gaming conventions in Singapore and it already welcomed more than 17,000 visitors from all over the world last year.
This year, GameStart will be back for its third consecutive event and Gamepad Project was given a chance to interview Ms. Elicia Lee, the founder for Eliphant Pte. Ltd, the organizer of GameStart Asia to give everyone and a little bit of history of GameStart and Elicia Lee, and what’s next for this gaming convention.
Gamepad Project: Tell us the history of GameStart.
Elicia Lee: I used to work for a gaming company, Electronic Arts, and so was exposed to the big gaming events that happen outside of Southeast Asia, and I wanted to be able to bring a gaming event like that to this part of the world. So I worked with a couple of ex-colleagues, who are also gamers, to put the first show together. When we started, we weren’t sure if people would come, but the response was overwhelming, and from then the event has grown and also evolved along the way, which it is still continuing to do.
Gamepad Project: What’s your inspiration in doing this kind of convention?
Elicia Lee: GameStart was inspired by big overseas gaming events like PAX and Tokyo Game Show, and as a gamer, I wanted to create an event that I myself, as a gamer, would want to attend and have fun. The idea was to organize a gaming event that would bring a lot of the exclusive games and content to Singapore and Southeast Asia, something that is very rare for the region. Along the way, GameStart has also become and event to bring all aspects of games together – we not only showcase video games, but also analog gaming like card and board games. GameStart has also become a place for indie developers to showcase their games to audiences, and we have over 30 indie studios coming to showcase their games this year. We also work with and support a lot of the local gaming communities, so some of the content your see in the hall are co-run by communities, such as our Retro gaming area and cosplay.
GameStart is where you will find three days of all-things-gaming under one roof. We’ve got eSports tournaments going on with international pro players coming in as well as PlayStation coming on as the main sponsor for South East Asia Major, the largest fighting game tournament in the region. Xbox will also be at GameStart 2016 for the first time, where fans will get a sneak preview at upcoming games like Gears of War 4 and Final Fantasy XV. GameStart also places great emphasis on supporting the indie studios, and we even have a dedicated space on the show floor, the Founders Base, where these indie studios can get more exposure and also showcase their efforts. And of course, there are lots of merchandise to be purchased at GameStart 2016, with special offers that aren’t available outside the convention. Cosplay is also a big factor, so we invite two international guests each year, and cosplayers also get free entry to the event.
Gamepad Project: Of all the conventions out there, why did you choose to have a gaming event?
Elicia Lee: My passion is in gaming, I’ve been playing games since I was a child, and I’m also lucky that I used to work for Electronic Arts, so I see games from both a corporate and a personal point of view. GameStart was created because there wasn’t a strong games convention in Singapore, or even Southeast Asia (except Thailand). Also, I am fortunate that from my time in EA, I already had good working relationships with a number of my larger exhibitors, so it made sense.
Gamepad Project: What are the pros and cons of conducting a big gaming convention such as GameStart?
Elicia Lee: The pros is a large event like this will get more attention from exhibitors and sponsors because we have a good crowd that comes to attend, however, it’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes and one of the challenges is working with a lot of diverse companies and communities to bring everyone together for the event.
Gamepad Project: Singapore is the hub of gaming conventions in Asia, what makes GameStart unique from all these conventions?
Elicia Lee: GameStart is the largest gaming convention in Singapore, and we offer fans the opportunity to experience first-hand what the larger brands such as Xbox and PlayStation have coming up, and we are also a big supporter of indies and communities, providing a platform for them to showcase their work to visitors and fellow industry professionals. Other gaming events in Singapore are usually focused on a specific game, or community, which is great. What GameStart wants to do, is bring all these content together, for the whole gaming audience here, for that 3 days.
Our presentation of the show is also very different, as our hall is dark, with lighting coming from booths and monitor and TV screens, so it creates a unique atmosphere for the visitors who come to attend the show.
Gamepad Project: Any plans of having GameStart event in the Philippines?
Elicia Lee: No solid plans at the moment, but my long term goal for GameStart is to bring it out of Singapore and into the Southeast Asian region eventually, so maybe one day!
Gamepad Project: What’s next for GameStart?
Elicia Lee: GameStart 2016 is happening this weekend on 7-9 October, and we are excited for visitors to come and experience all the different content at the show! This year, we have expanded to include analog games like Magic: The Gathering and other card games, and we even have a Dungeons and Dragons session on stage! We are also starting more initiatives to help indie developers and artists gain for opportunities for exposure, such as launching our inaugural GameStart Indie Awards this year, where the winner gets a trip to exhibit at Taipei Game Show 2017, and we have partnered up with another local event, Doujin Market, to have 25 artists from around Southeast Asia, come to show and sell their work at the event. We are also a big supporter of e-sports, and this year will see a lot of tournaments happening at the event as well.
We hope to continue helping to grow and support the various aspects of the gaming industry in Singapore, and eventually be able to move out into the region as well.
GameStart 2016 is happening this October 7-9, 2016. For more info, you can check their website at www.gamestart.asia.