Tuesday, September 15, 2009

GCA 2009 Media Conference @ Colosseum, Iluma

It was a pleasant surprise when I received the invitation for the Games Convention Asia 2009 Media Conference. The Games Convention Asia event (GCA) has always been a highlight for the regional gaming industry, not just due to the large variety of different games companies and business deals struck, but also the interesting discussions with the many panelists from the different value chain of games development. One can get a much better perspective of the current development and trends of game development in the region from GCA.

The GCA 2009 Media Conference was held this morning at the newly opened Illuma cybercafe, Colosseum. I met Yirong (Atomic Gaming) and Gayle (Colosseum) who commented that Colosseum with its 220+ gaming PCs and the latest gamign assesories, will be making its pressence felt in the gaming sector. Colosseum had hosted competition events, and the set up of the place with three mega screens will definitely be ideal for tournaments. Those who are interested can visit the place, located at the top floor of Illuma (next to the newly opened club Seven), i.e. you have to take the lifts (not escalators) to the 7th floor.

When I reached the venue, Tannia and Shirley (Hoffman) were introducing the panelists to me. For the Media Conference, they had4 panelists (left to right in the picture below), Jorg Zeissig (LMI), Joseph Olin (AIAS), Aroon Tan (GXA), and Richard Chua (IAH Games). There were also some collaterals for folks to read, including a coming cosplay event (Asia Pacific Cosplay Championship @ GCA 2009) on 20th Sep at Suntec as well.

Jorg and Joseph shared the details of GCA 2009, including the introduction of DICE (Design Innovate Communicate Entertain) Summit to Singapore. Personally I always think it is encouraging to have forums / platforms for companies and individuals to share their experiences, and I think DICE Summit Asia will do just that for companies in this region. It is very interesting to hear remarks like 'game creation as fine arts, as culturally revelant materials, and as the next wave of interactive entertainment, relevant to audiences at home and the region' from Joseph. I think that is simply great, and that is precisely what we need to encourage games development locally. Games are artistic entertainment that are of great relevant both culturally and commercially. Arts and / or entertainment can better flourish in an environment that encourages ideas exchange.

So I guess we can expect a lot from the participating companies in the coming GCA. I was looking through the list of 70+ exhibitors (Cherry, EA, Epicsoft, Gaming Era, Gigabyte, Microsoft, Nanyang Poly, Playware, TimeZone...etc) and while the majority are Singapore companies, we do have about 18 companies from China, India, Germany, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, and UK. I was hoping to see developers for mobile games, and also IPTV interactive games (e.g. Accedo) but I guess the current market is not attractive (yet) for these companies to participate in Singapore events. Hopefully in the years to come we can have these companies, to complete the spectrum of different games development. Well, GCA appeals to the games developers for the English speaking communities in the Asia region, but there are also many pockets of non-English speaking crowd and we do need other developers to come along and add to this eco-system.

Aroon and Richard shared their initiatives that will be launched at this week, including the directory of key players in the gaming industry that spans across the whole value chain. Aroon also shared that more market trends, market statistics, and details will be released to level the playing field such that smaller players could also have a good chance to secure their niches in this market. Actually I am not so sure that smaller games developers are disadvantaged, simply because the market we are talking about is actually world size. If a game is good, it will find its way around to other markets. Some niche successful games developers that come to mind are Amanita Design (with their Samorost 1 & 2, and Machinarium), and even the local LUT! with his Straw Hat Samurai 1 & 2. There are many others, e.g. Pencil Farm, who occupy different niches, and a small niche in the world market can be as big (in revenue) as the local market. Of course, an information directory is always good, and more market intelligence will also be great.

For Richard, he shared the One Asia Cup launched by IAH Games, where games from Malaysian, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, will compete for the US$100,000 prizes. It is encouraging to have such tournaments and competitions that give the much needed boost to the local competitive gaming landscape. It shows that gaming can be a serious affairs, and that helps to dispel the many media association of online games with crimes, social problems and gaming addicts. After the Media Conference, various journalists had their discussions with the panelists, but I left shortly (heh partly to come home and quickly register as Press Accreditation for GCA).

For GCA 2009, I will be looking forward to a healthy debate of gaming related issues. Of particular interest to me will be the keynote speech by Tetsuhiko Yasuda about copyright protection, development support, and games export potential in Asia. Yes, there are many other discussions and do visit the GCA site to get a sense of the different tracks of discussions.

So I guess that is about it for the Media Conference and I am looking forward to GCA 2009 at Suntec (from Thursday to Sunday). Oh, as an interesting side note, it was also shared that Into The Pixel exhibition (the website has pictures of the different pieces) of different art pieces will also be held during the GCA! I was glancing through the small booklet and found many interesting prints (Rabbids, Guild Wars ...etc). Yes, it will be great to appreciate game arts as prints, and truly celebrate the concept of games as the artistic forms of entertainment!

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