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7 Tips for developers exhibiting at game shows: a post-mortem of Tokyo Game Show 2015

by Jens Schottmann on 10/20/15 12:00:00 pm   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Attending Tokyo Game Show 2015 was a wonderful learning experience for the ACE EdVenture Studio team, and we received plenty of positive feedback from everyone who came to try out our (upcoming) educational RPG game, ChemCaper!

left to right: Indra and Anton from Artoncode in Jakarta, Anne Tham from ACE EdVenture, Chris B from Google, Melinda from ACE EdVenture

Before we begin talking about Tokyo Game Show, it might be relevant to introduce ourselves a bit and also explain about our new role-playing game. ACE EdVenture Studio has been around for the last 3 years, and is part of a bigger education group, ACE EdVenture, which includes two international schools and multiple learning centers. It is this foundation in education which has given rise to our focus of creating educational video games which kids will actually want to play.

From the start, we’ve been on a mission to revolutionize education, breaking out of convention and delivering knowledge in ways that truly engage our students. Fast forward to the present, the day and age where everything is mobile. In keeping with our mantra of offering an Education for the 21st Century, we’re meeting students in their element, quite literally.

 

ChemCaper: Act I - Petticles in Peril is the world’s first Chemistry RPG centered on the Year 7 Cambridge IGCSE Chemistry syllabus, and the first title in our endeavor of revolutionizing the way science is taught. Kids will play as Roub Idyum, as he makes his way in this world of ChemCaper built on real-life Chemistry.

Tokyo Game Show is a games convention held annually in the eastern part of Tokyo, at the Makuhari Messe in Chiba. This year, the event ran for four days from the 17th to the 20th of September, with the first two days (named business days) reserved for exhibitors, press members and other business representatives. Only the last two days are open to the public. On average TGS 2015 attracted more than 29,000 participants during the business days, and there were over 200,000 attendees during the final two days of the event.

2015

2014

2013

Sep. 17 (Thu)

Business Day

29,058

Sep. 18 (Thu)

Sep.19 (Thu)

27,786

29,171

Sep. 18 (Fri)

Business Day

29,559

Sep. 19 (Fri)

Sep. 20 (Fri)

28,647

23,183

Sep. 19 (Sat)

Public Day

97,601

Sep. 20 (Sat)

Sep. 21 (Sat)

92,308

102,399

Sep. 20 (Sun)

Public Day

112,230

Sep. 21 (Sun)

Sep. 22 (Sun)

103,091

115,444

Total

268,446

251,832

270,197

data collected from the Tokyo Game Show 2015 report

Just like last year, Sony sponsored the booths for exhibitors in the Indie Games Area (meaning that selected exhibitors did not have to pay anything for their booths). One conventional Type B Special Booth (measuring 2x1 meter) costs 216,000 yen, which is about USD $1,800 after currency conversion. The Sony-sponsored Special Booth is half the size, and we could have saved about USD $900 if we submitted our entry before the May 29th, 2015 deadline. Something to keep in mind in the future, for sure!

There is a caveat though. Booths in the Indie Game Area were located in Hall 9, 10 and 11 of the Makuhari Messe this year, which is actually in a separate and smaller building away from the hustle and bustle of the main building that houses Hall 1 to 8. Attendees are more likely to hang around in the main building, since it features exhibitors like Sony, Square Enix, Capcom, Sega, Bandai Namco and even Supercell.

left to right: The Sony-sponsored TYPE A Special Booth, and the TYPE B Special Booth which costs 216,000 yen (USD $1,800). Mock-ups from TGS Areas / Booth Rates page

 

an aerial view of Tokyo Game Show 2015 at Makuhari Messe

 

A packed Indie Game Area, sponsored by Sony

TGS is a great place to meet journalists. Familiarizing yourself with the faces of journalists (or having a colleague who can do that) is advantageous, since many journalists tend to walk past exhibition booths in search of a certain game or developer that they may be interested in. Tip: Developers should definitely approach these journalists whenever the opportunity arises, and they are quite recognizable by their press pass worn throughout the TGS event.

Press members don’t normally remove or conceal their press pass either – the press pass has to be in plain sight for TGS staff to allow them entry through quick entrances (and exits) with no queues, and there is a special press room for journalists to use when they need a break from all of the walking they do throughout the day.

bottom right: a Tokyo Game Show 2015 press pass

Some advice for TGS Exhibitors (2016 and beyond)

Translation

Do consider translating the posters, brochures, pamphlets, promotional materials and instructions for your exhibition booth. Having someone who can speak Japanese helps when trying to understand and answer questions from press members or visitors to your booth.

Volunteer translators are available during the event, but there are way too many exhibitors and attendees for them to cover every one. Best to set aside some budget for your own translator (or two even, since the translators may have to be at the event throughout the four days).

Arrive Early on Day 1

If it’s your first time exhibiting at the Makuhari Messe, it would be wise to arrive early and not schedule your first meeting too early in the morning.

You’ll need time to familiarize yourself with the layout of the place, and it can be a little difficult to figure out which area to get your pass, where the entrance is, and where all the other booths/business meeting areas are located.

We missed our first meeting at 10.30am on the first business day because we had difficulty figuring out how to take the train to Tokyo Game Show (we were staying in Takanawa, which is 40km away from Makuhari Messe).

The usual crowd at Tokyo Game Show

Learn (a bit of) Japanese

It always helps to be able to speak some Japanese, for example:

Good morning - おはよう- “Ohayō”

Thank you - ありがとう – “Arigatō”

Good afternoon  - こんにちは – “Kon'nichiwa”

See you again - またお会い – “Mata o ai”

Obviously, these don’t even really cover the basics but you get the point. Investing into a small Japanese phrasebook is a great idea and they truly don’t cost the world but even just a few words will go a long way.

Get a Suica prepaid e-money card

Suica is a prepaid e-money card that can be used to pay for your train fares. By having some money in your card, you can just tap it on the reader when entering or exiting a ticket gate and the train fare is automatically deducted from your Suica. You can purchase a Suica card from any multifunction ticket vending machines (pictured below), ticket offices and travel service centers. They cost anything between 1,000 to 10,000 yen.

Do not underestimate the usefulness of the Suica prepaid card. Though the queue to purchase a ticket at the ticket machine is usually short, misjudging your fare can be disastrous when you’re not allowed to leave the train station through the exit gate area (you would have to pay a visit to the ticketing office and fork out the balance owed).

The ticket office queue at the Kaihim Makuhari train station (a five-minute walk to Makuhari Messe) during TGS public days is extremely long - it took us more than half an hour before we could have our fares adjusted by the ticket officer and leave the station.

Wear comfortable walking shoes

This one is of extreme importance. One of our colleagues only brought and wore boots to the event; needless to say his feet had a hard time (good walking shoes aren’t that cheap in Japan either).

We walked to the train station and Makuhari Messe. We had to walk from one exhibition building to another to see everything and everyone. We even had to stand whenever we took the train.

Expect to do a lot of walking if you’re attending Tokyo Game Show, especially if you’re there for all four days.

Use the Business Meeting Area

There is a special business meeting area section (seen below) just across from Hall 8 of the main building which you can use to schedule business meetings – the booths cost quite a bit, but desk and tables in the center of the business area can be used freely by exhibitors.

Many exhibitors and journalists use the business meeting area to schedule interviews as well, since the area isn’t as noisy as the main exhibition hall area.

The business meeting area is only available on business days and the area is closed off completely on public days.

Get a pocket wifi internet device

You’ll need a pocket wifi internet device to access your emails, Twitter account, Facebook, and even look up for information about Tokyo Game Show. Public wifi is available at Makuhari Messe, but you’ll rarely be able to connect to it even on business days.

You can order and pick one up from this company, either from the post office at the airport (you’ll have to return it before taking your flight back) or getting it sent to the hotel you are staying in for extra convenience.

For us, it’s been a blast here even with all the little challenges we faced. Overall, it’s a great event run in the kind of fashion you would expect from Japanese efficiency and order. We’re certainly looking forward to next year by which time ChemCaper will have already hit the stores. Any questions or comments, feel free to hit us up here or on any of our other platforms!


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