The many things you’ll get to see and do at GameStart 2018

Time to get your hearts and wallets ready for a weekend of gaming. GameStart 2018 blasts off on 13-14 October at the Suntec Convention Centre, promising even more special guests, exhibitors, and competitors at Singapore’s largest gaming event.

GameStart 2018 - Press Con - Elicia Lee

GameStart founder Elicia Lee. (Photo: GameStart Asia)

According to GameStart founder Elicia Lee, the industry as a whole is now different from when they first started five years ago. Their inaugural showing emphasized the hardcore gaming crowd with a focus on PC and console titles, but as gaming grew mainstream in the public’s eyes they’ve felt a need to evolve and diversify their content. It seems to be working too, as visitor numbers have been steadily increasing year-on-year, with last year’s edition bringing in 24,000 people.

That’s why this year’s special guest line-up includes New Japan Pro-Wrestling superstar Kenny Omega, a well-known celebrity gamer who, aside from meeting fans and putting on a stage performance, will also be providing commentary at the on-site SEA Major Singapore 2018.

“People are more willing to admit that they play games,” explained Lee, hence there’ll be something for everyone at this year’s event. Here’s a round-up of what to expect.

Classes and workshops

Prior to the big day are art masterclasses by Jacqueline Jocson and Carlo Arellano, ticketed at $120 each and conducted at *SCAPE.

Jocson is an art director and concept artist with experience across multiple mediums, including Super Evil Megacorp’s Vainglory. She’ll be teaching Character Design: Introduction to Visual Storytelling on 10 October.

Arellano is also an art director with experience in film and games, with credits in World of Warcraft, God of War, Vainglory and more. He’ll be teaching Archetypes in Advanced Character Design on 12 October.

Those starting out may want to consider an animation workshop by local artists Nanimonda and Naoki Ichiryu. Their 2-hour Creating Fun Animations On The Go session at GameStart will only set you back $25, using either your phone or tablet to get the magic done.

Alternatively, build your own miniature arcade cabinet. No Average Joe are running their Retrocade Kit Workshop at the convention as well, scheduled from 11am to 2:30pm. It’s a pricier ticket at $400 as you do get to bring home your Raspberry Pi 3 creation. Do note that the cost includes a pass to GameStart as well as access to tools and materials.

Meet your heroes

Last year’s stage talk by Nier Automata director Yoko Taro drew quite the crowd, so it’s only natural that GameStart would expand their line-up for 2018. Aside from NJPW’s Kenny Omega, attendees can also look forward to a meet and greet with Elise Zhang, voice actress for Overwatch’s Mei.

GameStart 2018 - Press Con - Elise Zhang

Elise Zhang, the voice behind Overwatch’s Mei. (Photo: GameStart Asia)

If Soulcalibur VI and Monster Hunter perks your interest then you definitely wouldn’t want to miss appearances by SCVI producer Motohiro Okubo or MH directors Kaname Fujioka and Yuya Tokuda. Fujioka has been a director since the series’ PS2 release, and was both the executive and art director for the recent Monster Hunter: World. Tokuda shares a history that’s almost as long, primarily as a lead designer before taking on the directorial seat.

You can apply for a meet and greet session or submit a question over at the GameStart page.

Loads to see and do

Naturally, the core of any convention is its showfloor and GameStart 2018 has already published their list of exhibitors. Neo Tokyo Project’s Doujin Market returns with 43 confirmed artists, while the indie showcase that is Founder’s Base continues alongside the GameStart Indie Award as voted by fans.

A few exhibitor highlights at the media preview included Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment, who will have a playable preview of Lego DC Super-Villains (pre-order at the show for an exclusive Lego mini-fig of Lex Luthor), as well as Japanese developer PONOS with their hit Battle Cats. You’ll also run into BattleSky Brigade Tap Tap by local studio BattleBrew, whose legion of rabbits are easily recognized at any event.

GameStart 2018 - Press Con - Alex Lui

Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment’s Alex Lui holding up an exclusive Lego mini-fig. (Photo: GameStart Asia)

If your wallet somehow survived the trek through the Doujin Market then maybe the refreshments at the Sanctuary will do it in (note that alcohol is served). You’ll also find booths by retailers and exhibitors such as CyGames, who are there for the Shadowverse tournaments and to peddle merchandise from Granblue Fantasy and Princess Connect!.

Monster Hunter fans should also stop by Xmashed Gear, as they’ve got a new batch of T-shirt designs dedicated to the beloved series.

Some of the new T-shirts by Xmashed Gear. (Photo: GameAxis)

It’s also worth checking out MyRepublic, who are stepping up their community endeavors with an amateur esports league launching later this year. Visit them to learn more, or to see Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 in action.

SEA Major 2018 returns to GameStart. (Photo: Beast of the East)

All that is, of course, accompanied by the strong esports presence that GameStart has built up. The SEA Major 2018 is somehow bigger than ever, with a spectacular line-up that sees local hero Ho Kun Xian alongside renowned figures such as Daigo Umehara, Tokido, Takukana, Justin Wong, and much more. The list of tournaments are further bolstered by the SEA Mobile Major, with both stages set back-to-back within the hall for what will no doubt be a torrent of energy. Organizer Koh Yung Tek said they’ve grown the event to be a global attraction, and that this year’s tournaments will see 200 international players across 24 countries flying in to compete.

Lastly, it’d be remiss not to mention that tabletop gamers will have an area to call their own once again. You’ll get to witness a couple of tournaments spanning the Star Wars and Warhammer franchises, or simply try your hand at the vast plethora of games available — there’s more than just Munchkin or Cards Against Humanity lurking out there. Dungeons & Dragons players new and old are also welcome, with the local Adventurer’s League bringing in Epic and region-exclusive content.

All set? Then empty your bags, charge your cameras, and prep some cash — tickets to GameStart 2018 are now on sale, with day passes starting at $12.

Ade Putra

Ade thinks there's nothing quite like a good game and a snug headcrab. He grew up with HIDEO KOJIMA's Metal Gear Solid, lives for RPGs, and is waiting for light guns to make their comeback.