Only the Brave and Lovely Endured the Tokyo Game Show

Illustration for article titled Only the Brave and Lovely Endured the Tokyo Game Show

The 2011 Tokyo Game Show wasn't even supposed to happen this year. During the spring, as the country was starting to put itself back together after the earthquake, the show looked like it was a no-go.

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Then, there were the blackouts, power consumption concerns, and a general feeling among many Japanese that they should refrain from trivial things. Even during the summer, annual fireworks displays were canned out of respect for those whose lives were lost or destroyed by the quake.

When the show did start, a few companies had smaller booths. A handful —Western and Japanese—didn't show up. TGS seemed like it was spinning its way into irrelevancy.

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"Just wait," game designer Goichi Suda told Kotaku. "Wait until the public day. The show is going to be bustling."

And it was. Eighty-six thousand people lined up in the rain to enter a packed convention hall and stand for hours more in hopes of playing something.

I'm a member of the press. I breeze in with a press pass. I get to see stuff early. It's part of the job. One can get jaded. On that first day, I saw people clutching umbrellas, waiting to go into a sweltering conventional hall, crowded with people and covered with sweat. Their dedication was impressive.

"Just wait. Wait until the public day. The show is going to be bustling."

People pay money. They wait in line. They want to play games. In the past, I often thought demo kiosks with short lines were merely running unpopular games. That still might be true, and I still do believe that to a point. However, strength in numbers means shorter waits and, more importantly, TGS attendees actually get to spend their time playing and not just waiting.

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Many were there for the PS Vita. The majority did not get their hands on it. If there weren't enough Vitas for the press to game on, there certainly weren't enough for Joe Q. Public.

Illustration for article titled Only the Brave and Lovely Endured the Tokyo Game Show
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(Brian Ashcraft | Kotaku)

There were so many people this year that there were lines for everything. Microsoft must be kicking themselves! If it had a larger booth, it might have been able to introduce more Japanese gamers to the Xbox 360, perhaps sell a few systems.

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"There have been a lot of factors this year," Xbox boss Takashi Sensui told Kotaku when asked why its booth was smaller. "Like the global financial crisis." Sensui agreed that the earthquake and the power shortages also played a part.

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While some were willing to write TGS off on the less crowded business days or even skip the public days entirely, that's missing the point of TGS. Tokyo Game Show is not and has never been only about the booths—or the news. It's about the mass of gamers that show up. This one is for them. Next year, let's hope the show realizes just that.

(Top photo: Brian Ashcraft | Kotaku)


You can contact Brian Ashcraft, the author of this post, at bashcraft@kotaku.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.

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DISCUSSION

aaronbaggett01
aaronsxedge

I think this is a bit too much exaggeration. I showed up Saturday at noon and I didn't have to wait to get in. I payed 600 yen for the ticket since I'm an international student and it wasn't really hot at all. Not even outside in cosplay alley. The crowd was no where near as stuffed as game blogs are making it out to be. I was never bumped, shoved, or even annoyed. Even the wait for food was maybe 30 seconds the entire Saturday I was there. I had plenty of space.

The wait in line for the big games was bad, but that is to be expected. My friends waited in line 2 hours to play Kingdom Hearts. If you wanted to play a lot of the smaller games, you had free access, because everyone was in line for Resident Evil or Monster Hunter. A lot of the indie game stuff was maybe a 2 minute wait for me. I didn't wait in line at all to get my picture with all the cosplayers. I walked right up to them and asked and they were more than friendly about it.