Well, I finally did it. I finally fulfilled the childhood dream of attending the Tokyo Game Show.
How did it measure up?
Actually, it was surprisingly similar to E3 – formerly the world’s largest video game convention.
If you’ve never heard of (or been to) E3, you might want to check out this short post, written after I attended the last ever “Real E3” in 2006. E3 used to be a mega-event, not only showcasing the newest video games and technologies, but boasting appearances from movie stars, pro athletes, playboy bunnies, and live musical performances from some pretty major artists. It was truly a spectacle to be seen. The problem was, it turned into too much of a spectacle – the public began trying so desperately to gain access that the floors became overcrowded and the conference could no longer fulfill its original purpose: to act as an industry-only event, building connections and showing off products to the media and to those already in the game industry.
As a result, the convention was shut down in 2006 and replaced with a “series of meetings” that barely deserves to hold the title of “E3.” And thus we’re left with TGS, formerly the second largest game convention in the world, now the largest.
My expectation of TGS was always that it’d be much smaller and less spectacular than E3. Well, while the scale wasn’t quite there, I was shocked at how close it actually came. Although it lacked a bit of the “punch” of E3 it did have all the massive 2-story TV displays, rows and rows of demo systems, blasting music, droves of models, and even live concerts.
Probably the biggest difference I noticed was that due to TGS being split into four days (two for industry professionals and two for the public), the industry days remained quite true to their purpose. With the public able to enter freely during the final two days of the convention there’s no real need to force their way in to the first two, leaving the demo machines open and the floors relatively empty for those who are working to do their jobs.
Those who are working…and me 🙂
I was lucky enough to’ve been given an industry pass by an old coworker, providing the opportunity to compare both “halves” of TGS. Here’s what I saw:
During the industry days, there were virtually no lines for any of the games. You could just walk right up and play, and there was always enough staff to come and help you if you ever got stuck. The models were generally drop-dead gorgeous, and due to the not-particularly-dense-crowds, seemed to appear in strikingly high numbers.
One other interesting little thing I noticed was that the booth staff actually disinfected the controllers between each use. Wow, talk about cleanliness! How Japanese 😛
The public days, on the other hand, were as my friend described, “A major cluster f**k.” The density of the crowds was just mindboggling – you literally couldn’t move at all, and playing a single game would easily require an hour+ wait. There were WAY fewer models and and they were clearly “second-tier” as compared to those on the day before.
…Also quite amusing was the sight of dozens of nerds crowding around with their massive cameras trying to catch a glimpse of a smiling model cowering before the wall of flashes in front of her
However, one thing the public days had that the industry days didn’t was the CosPlay.
The word CosPlay is a contraction of “Costume+Play,” describing regular people who dress up in insanely elaborate and well-made costumes, often as their favorite anime or game characters. It’s a phenomenon most well-known to occur in Akihabara (Tokyo’s “nerd district”) and Harajuku (see blog post here). And while a small amount of CosPlay did always pop up at E3 from time to time, this is one area where TGS wins hands-down. Costume after costume after costume…I can’t even imagine how long it must’ve taken to make those things.
(Note: This post was originally part of the next, later split into two.)