What went down at GameStart 2016

Don Kevin Hapal
What went down at GameStart 2016
Check out the highlights of this year's GameStart!

SINGAPORE – This year’s GameStart promised bigger and better content – and it delivered!

The gaming convention, held every year in Singapore, had small beginnings with founder Elicia Lee using her own savings to start a small gathering of gamers and developers in a small hall in Singapore.

Now on its third year, GameStart was held at one of Singapore’s most stunning venues – the Suntec Convention Center – and hosted 17,000 guests from 30 countries all over the world – including top eSports players and game developers.

GameStart 2016 ran from October 7 to 9 with non-stop activities and surprises – from tournaments, to cosplay, all the way to merchandise.

Here are the highlights from Southeast Asia’s premier gaming event:

PlayStation and the Southeast Asia Major

Sony came back to GameStart this year as a major sponsor for the Southeast Asia Major 2016, a premier fighting game tournament hosted for the first time at GameStart. 

The event highlighted a premium Street Fighter V tournament which is a qualifier for the Capcom Pro Tour. Japan’s Tokido dominated SEAM’s highlight Street Fighter V tournament in a jaw-dropping 5-round battle against fellow Japanese, Momochi.

Meanwhile, the Philippines’ own Donal “PBE Don” Gimperoso and Andrew “IPT.Dru” Martinez both made it within the top 32. 

WINNER. Japan's Tokido wins the Street Fighter V CPT Qualifier. Photo by Mark Teo/ Afterdark Facility / GameStart

Filipino players dominated the Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator‘s Southeast Asian-only leg, Toushinsai Qualifier, with PlayBook’s Mark Anthony ‘PBENoob’ Casing taking the lead. Unfortunately PBENoob fell short of putting down Korean champion ‘Dura’ to win a free trip to and qualify for the Toushinsai Tournament in Japan.

Imperium Pro Team’s Alden “IPT.Alden” Jacob was able to rise as the tournament’s top BlazBlue: Central Fiction player.

COMMUNITY. Gamers and eSports enthusiasts from all over the world flocked to Singapore to watch the Southeast Asia Major. Photo by Yana Gagarin / Afterdark Facility / GameStart

The full results can be found here in our roundup.

Famous fighting game producers and game designers like Tekken 7’s Michael Murray and Street Fighter V’s Yoshinori Ono also graced the event with their presence. 

Yoshinori Ono and his best buddy 'Blanka' at the Southeast Asia Major 2016. Photo by Mark Teo / Afterdark Facility / GameStart

Sony Interactive Entertainment also featured a demo for Final Fantasy XV. 


Photo by Chee Boon Pin / Afterdark Facility / GameStart

GameStart wouldn’t be complete without some awesome cosplay.

Cosplayers were given free entrance and roamed all over the venue for the 3 days of the event. Visitors enjoyed taking photos with cosplayers who happily obliged to pose. Rewards were also given to those with the most awesome cosplay outfits.

COSPLAY. GameStart wouldn't be GameStart without awesome cosplay. Photo by Mark Teo / Afterdark Facility / GameStart

Game previews

Xbox joins GameStart for the first time.

This year also marked the first time Microsoft’s Xbox unit joined GameStart.

Having two major gaming platforms showcased in a gaming convention in Singapore is a rare feat, according to Lee. 

For its part, Xbox gave previews of its upcoming titles, putting a highlight on Gears of War 4 which will be released this week. Visitors were also able to take part in a mini Gears of War 4 tournament where winners earned copies of the game.

GEARS OF WAR 4. A limited edition Gears of War Xbox package showcased at GameStart. Photo by Don Kevin Hapal/Rappler  

To showcase their flagship feature, Xbox Play Anywhere, there were also demos of various Xbox games on both the Xbox console and MIcrosoft PCs.

Some of the titles made available for demonstration included Forza Horizon 3, Final Fantasy XV, and FIFA 17.  

PLAY ANYWHERE. Visitors got to play game on both PCs and Xbox One consoles. Photo by Don Kevin Hapal/Rappler.

THE RACE. Gamers go for a race on the Xbox One. Photo by Don Kevin Hapal/Rappler.

Bandai Namco Entertainment also brought in a bunch of game previews and demos at GameStart.

The titles on display included Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization, SD Gundam G Generation Genesis, Tales of Berseria, Little Nightmares, and Tekken 7.

THE LITTLE NIGHTMARES. Photo by Don Kevin Hapal/Rappler

SWORD ART ONLINE. Photo by Don Kevin Hapal/Rappler.

TALES OF BERSERIA. Photo by Don Kevin Hapal/Rappler

GUNDAM. Photo by Don Kevin Hapal/Rappler

Merchandise and Indie games

GameStart is a haven for every gamer, not only for the gaming demos, but also for the stack of gaming items you can find (mostly at awesome bargain prices).

The doujin market featured merchandise from various artists, curated by Cosplay Partner and Doujin Market organiser, Neo Tokyo Project. 

Photo by Don Kevin Hapal/Rappler


Visitors also got to buy Kinetiquette’s amazingly detailed dioramas, such as this awesome Street Fighter display.

 At the ‘Founders Base,’ GameStart put the spotlight on indie game developers from Singapore and the region who set up booths to showcase their works to visitors.

One title that caught our attention was Kaijuden’s Lunar Eclipse, a virtual reality game with a world design inspired by the 80s Hong Kong cinematic films. In the game, you play the role of a provincial inspector who will be investigating a string of deaths in a 1900s China.

A major feature of the game is a walk-in-place motion control, wherein players don’t just watch things unfold but actually walk around and immerse themselves inside a virtual reality world.

Photo by Don Kevin Hapal

On GameStart

Lee, in an interview with Rappler, shared that the first GameStart happened in 2014 in a “small hall in Singapore” and so she never really expected it to grow this big. 

“To be honest when we started it, it was really just a YOLO moment, like a ‘just do it and put everything in it and see how it turns out…’ To be honest I didn’t think we would even make it that year, so it’s really quite amazing that its become like this now,” she said.

Elicia Lee is the Founder for Eliphant Pte. Ltd, the organizer of GameStart Asia.

Lee shared that before GameStart, there was no convention in Southeast Asia that could be compared to popular game shows like the Tokyo Game Show. 

“We never really had something like that in Singapore, even in Southeast Asia. There’s Thailand Game Show, but there’s no really big event where you can bring exclusive stuff in… Because I’m also a gamer, I really wanted to go to something like that but not everyone can really afford to come to Japan and the US to attend these shows, and so I really wanted to create our own version – for Singapore and Southeast Asia, for gamers.”

According to her, starting GameStart was a huge risk on her part but being a gamer herself keeps it alive until now. 

“When I plan GameStart, I just think about what would I [as a gamer] want look at and what would get me excited? What would i wanna see? I try my best to put that together, working with some really good partners.” – Rappler.com


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Don Kevin Hapal

Don Kevin Hapal is Rappler’s Head of Data and Innovation. He started at Rappler as a digital communications specialist, then went on to lead Rappler’s Balikbayan section for overseas Filipinos. He was introduced to data journalism while writing and researching about social media, disinformation, and propaganda.