TGS is one of those events where you hear a lot about it, but you simply can’t quantify how it really goes down until you’re actually standing through the entrance, overlooking the show floor and taken aback by the sheer size of the event.
Compared to Australian conventions such as Pax Australia TGS sits at around 2-3 times the size of the area at the Makuhari Messe convention centre, but with ample space between booths for thoroughfare. Apart from the sheer size there are some really neat little touches to how things are run, such as peripherals that include controllers and headsets all get wiped down after they’re used to make sure there is a level of cleanliness between users. Hopefully this reduces the chances of any convention plague overcoming punters.
Traversing the show floor was a breeze as being able to visit on a Business Day meant that the hordes of crowds that descend to the location for the Public Days were noticeably absent. Heavy crowds are just a part of being in the most populated city in the world.
Among the exhibitors in attendance, PlayStation and Capcom had the largest booths on display, Sony’s offering draped in PlayStation blue and looking exceptionally stylish and sheek, whilst Capcom had themed areas for their games. Over at the PlayStation booth one of the biggest groups were mesmerized by a non-playable demo of The Last Guardian. Looking gorgeous, but also looking like it needed polish, the game wears its bloodlines in Ico and Shadow of the Colossus on its sleeve for all to see. Over in the Capcom area Monster Hunter Stories had a novel area ripped straight of out the game that had punters delighted and also one of the biggest crowds lining up, alongside the impressive Biohazard Resident Evil display that had the house from the demos towering over a two-hour long crowd waiting to experience the new demo in VR.
Sega had a large presence as well, with their recent acquisition, Atlus, showing off their hottest new title Persona 5 alongside a massive presence for Yakuza 6, two massive games in their home country. Square Enix had a lot of attention and hype at their booth for Final Fantasy XV, but the booth that really stood out to me was for 2K’s upcoming open world game Mafia III. A grand presence that looked as if it was ripped right out of New Orleans, and with many cosplayers hanging around in time appropriate 60s attire, the booth was immensely impressive and a great example of what creativity can do for a brand.
Newcomers to the streaming scene in Japan, Twitch had a nice booth setup, and in true Twitch fashion, their giveaways were a hit and by the end of the day every other person had some form of Twitch swag. Whether Twitch breaks out here, time will tell, but their large presence and professional looking booth complete with an area for local casters to stream from (something not seen even at the mega booth at PAXAus 2015) they came ready to make an impression, and judging by the large turn outs on the Public Days, it looks like they are doing so.
Heading to the far end of one of the halls lead to some of the most interesting sights to see, the Romance Game area had constant lines of girls lining up to meet their favourite boys and men from their preferred Otome titles. And the way this was all presented was kind of amazing. A girl would pick which lad they’d like to meet, and after a substantial wait in line with other ladies, they would stand out front of a sliding door, a drum would sound, the door would slide open and there standing above them would be their dreamboat. He walks out, greets them, and then leans over and whispers into their ear what I imagine is the sweetest thing ever to which the girls could barely contain themselves. Photos would then follow. This area had this formula repeated in different situations, another being that drapes would arise and the guy would be lying seductively on the floor and invite the girl to join him. It was really refreshing to see after so many Booth Babes pandering to dudes, an area that was 110% pandering to the female audience. Mark my words, I plan to learn enough Japanese so that next year, I will line up and finally understand what the girls are being told.
TGS is an interesting event. 20 years in and it’s trucking along strongly, which definitely unites the gaming community across Japan and many delegates from around the world. As expected there are many things that make the cultural gap from back home really stand out, but perhaps it is part of the charm of the entire event itself. A lot of effort goes into booth presentation and a well organised layout and structure ensure the event runs smoothly and efficiently. It’s definitely worth experiencing to see how Japan runs a convention of their own, and who knows, maybe our own conventions will take some inspiration from how they do things here… Peripheral wipe-downs, please!