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VR Zone On The Ground: GameStart 2017 – championing AR, esports, tabletop gaming

GameStart Asia has returned with its fourth iteration with GameStart2017, featuring the ultimate in gaming content and technology presented in a consumer-friendly, industry-centric format. Despite several new additions, perennial favourites remain at the centre of GameStart: showcases of upcoming blockbuster games, esport tournaments, indie games, retro gaming and cosplay.

With a prime location right at the entrance, Sony’s VR offerings had long queues forming. Image: Ian Ling

One of the new additions this year was the large GameStart Tabletop area where guests played, competed and experienced tabletop and arcade style games, both new and old. Augmented Reality (AR) makes a debut with the arena and equipment for Virtual AR team game ‘HADO’ set up at the venue itself. In addition to key exhibitors Lenovo, Sony and Samsung present at the venue, other exhibitors included Wizards of the Coast, who presented popular card game Magic: The Gathering to the event for the first time.

Nevermind state-of-the-art VR or AR games: Confidential Mission at RetroDNA’s booth was a real blast… from the past. Image: Aiden Chong

GameStart 2017 was divided into about 5 areas: console gaming right by the entrance, where Sony featured its PlayStation systems with racing and VR gaming set-ups. Next to it featured arcade games. Further ahead is the Doujin Market, Singapore’s largest community curated youth arts and illustration fair. By collaborating with Neo Tokyo Project, the Doujin Market returns for its second year with almost double the booths from last year, showcasing new and upcoming talents in this area.

Game industry legends Yoko Taro and Yosuke Saito take the stage. Image: Ian Ling

Next to the Doujin Market, where there are two stages where key tournaments for esports games were held: the Tekken World Tour 2017 (Tekken 7), the Asia Regional Finals for Capcom Pro Tour 2017 (Street Fighter V), and the first Asia Championship for Windjammers (a popular retro game re-released on PS4). The total prize pool stands at more than US$50,000. Local competitions for Guilty Gear XRD 2, Gundam Versus and BlazBlue Central Fiction were also held.

A Tekken showdown underway at GameStart. Image: Ian Ling

Going past the gaming tournament arenas, we arrive at the Samsung Booth, where they presented their ultra-wide screen offerings and VR technology. We then passed the HADO arena, which, from what we observed, seemed to be an AR game with three players in two opposing teams in a dodge-ball format game. Behind that, taking up approximately sixth of the total floor area, was the Gamestart Tabletop area, where intricate tabletop set-ups intermingled with good ol’ Magic: The Gathering and other card and board games.

The level of detail and ingenuity of the tabletop games featured at GameStop was incredible. Image: Ian Ling
Participants got to experience games of all types. Image: Ian Ling

Looping around, and heading back to the main entrance is the Founders Base, a showcase of the indie gaming scene. In keeping with the spirit of the gaming industry, the Founders Base offered subsidised booths to individuals, start-ups and small companies behind the creation and realisation of these indie games. IMGA SEA’s second iteration was hosted at GameStart 2017, with the ceremony held on 13th October. List of winning games and the companies behind them can be found here. Indie game lovers were also able to vote for their favourite indie game showcased at GameStart 2017 for the GameStart Indie Award.

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