My Adventures and Misadventures at ChinaJoy 2016Aug 10, 2016 | 2 Votes
ChinaJoy 2016 is one of or perhaps the biggest annual games expo in the Asian region. It is comparable to the Gamescon in Europe and is a festival (of sorts) filled with events like live eSports competitions, play-tests, giveaways as well as talks and even a congress/ live discussion forum. In fact, due to the massiveness of the expo, the expo itself is separated into various sections to cater to different audiences. The 4-day event kicked off on the 28th of July in Shanghai’s New International Expo Center (SNIEC) and being one of the attendees, here’s the details of my adventure!
After preparing whatever that I could for the trip, I embark on my journey by taking a 5-hour (or so) flight to Shanghai. The flight’s pretty uneventful which is a really good thing, but the “events” actually started after I’ve landed at Pudong International Airport. Instead of spending more time finding a suitable mobile data plan vendor at the airport, which admittedly is pretty deserted during the time I arrived since it’s like the wee hours of the morning, I went ahead and caught a cab – had to haggle the price down by almost 100 Yuan – and head to the hotel.
After checking in – thank goodness there was a room available so I was able to check in early, I set off in search of a mobile data plan, thinking I could simply buy a mobile data from any nearby reload store by the street. Boy... was I so very wrong! Apparently, in China, you need to have an identity card before you can buy any mobile plan that comes with a sim card. It is still possible to buy a data plan using your passport though – you just need to head to a more established mobile store, like China Mobile.
Anyway, after half a day of feeling like an idiot, I went ahead to try out the metro system in Shanghai. Being from a city with no light rail transit, I was wowed by the efficiency of their metro system. Of course, due to the terrorist scare in Asia recently, China has also increased its security by setting up security checks on all entrances to the metro (and evidently to the expo center as well).
The hot and hazy weather in Shanghai and the extensive walking about has had taken its toll on me that day. After grabbing some “lunner”, “dinch” or whatever you call a mix between lunch and dinner, I head back to the hotel to recuperate from the lack of proper sleep during the flight and prepare for the day tomorrow.
28th of August came around pretty quickly and after I had a hearty breakfast, I caught the metro to the expo center. There were a lot... and I do mean, A LOT, of walking and unfortunately, by the time I reached the center, especially considering that I went through the wrong entrance (it’s the furthest one), I already had some blisters. Soldiering through the soreness and discomfort, I went about my duties at the BtoB section of the expo – this section consists of 4 huge, airplane hangar-like halls - and met with a ton of people to talk about their company’s games.
There were plenty of established games companies, such as Youzu/GTArcade, 37Games, R2 Games, NGames/Gamesamba, Bandai Namco and Shinezone as well as many other indie companies at ChinaJoy 2016. As virtual and augmented reality is a pretty huge phenomenon over in China, there were a lot of companies peddling their demo VR/AR wares at the expo as well. Unfortunately, due to the blisters, I figured that it might be best to wait until I had some more comfortable shoes on before I tried those demos.
On the very next day, I went on an “experience” spree of sorts and started queuing up to try all of these marvelous devices and machines. There’s this driving/piloting monster of a machine called CooeeVR. Developed by CoolVR, the device allows you to be completely be immersed in a driving/piloting game when coupled with an VR headset.
With the 4 powerful pumps on the machine, it is able to move and incline your seat up to a pretty steep 18 degrees (hence, the need for the seat belt). As awesome as it looks, CooeeVR isn’t exactly practical - being massively huge and heavy, and all – for a home owner to... well, own. However, I can see its appeal for future VR-oriented arcade centers.
Expecting the experience to nauseating as the machine moved pretty violently while I was trying out their car racing demo, I was pleasantly surprised that I still can walk perfectly fine after alighting from the machine. Despite coming in last in the game – completely not my fault by the way; The “power steering” simply has too much power - I had a pretty fun time with the machine.
Besides CoolVR, I’ve also given Manker’s Future Striker gaming machine a try. With its 3-screens and its compatibility with virtual reality headsets, you can play on the machine with or without a headset. The machine that I got into is even a two-seater. They also have a 2-turret cannon that you can play with a VR headset, but since the queue was so long, I don’t think it would be the best use of my time there, especially considering that there are so many other stuff to try, to queue up again just to use that device.
I’ve also visited and tried various Unity’s games which were on display, missed a chance at trying out PlayStationVR, but I’ve managed to tried a VR archery game using an Oculus Rift headset and the Oculus Touch. The experiences were incredible and these marvels did reignite my belief that VR/AR is the future of gaming!
On the last day of the expo, I met with the Global Branding Specialist, Elena, from Youzu. A fine name for a delightful lady, we had plenty to chat about unlike my previous chat with their marketing staff, which is rather quite awkward I’d say. After exchanging contact info, we parted ways and I’ve decided to head over to the BtoC section and see what it is all about and wow, I was pretty much blown away.
Just so you know, I haven’t been to any games expo in my life although I have always wanted to go to either BlizzCon or E3 (or maybe even the GDC) since there’s where most new game releases are announced and game demos provided. There were huge stages constructed within the hallowed hangars of the expo center, blaring out music, while showcasing various attention-grabbing game trailer videos.
Plenty of these stages have pro-gamers on them, as they were battling it out on the giant overhead screen display for all to watch. From the more popular DotA 2 and World of Tanks to a live World of Warcraft 3-vs-3 Arena Match and multiple Calibur of Spirit MOBA matches, the crowds were cheering on their favorite teams, adding to the cacophony of the entire scene. There’s even a League of Legends Southeast Asian Qualifier match being played on World Cyber Arena (WCA)’s stage. I’ve seen members of Team Vici Gaming on stage! Seriously, if you’re an eSports fan, it’s like a dream come true.
Aside from the main focus of attention in each of the halls - the stages, there were also smaller “stations” or booths scattered around or behind these stages and they were usually filled with mobile devices or PCs running the latest games that have reached the Chinese gaming market. There were even lots of renowned gaming companies from overseas, including Ubisoft, EA Games and Blizzard Entertainment as well. In fact, Blizzard staff at the expo are giving away free tickets for players to experience 20-mins worth of Overwatch gameplay on the gaming PCs they’ve provided at their booth for free.
Let’s not forget about the freebies galore at ChinaJoy 2016. Honestly, if you’re heading to China anytime soon for an expo or a games convention, you simply must get the WeChat app. It’s not only convenient to have a reliable chatting app to call home; it’s your golden ticket to getting a lot of the freebies at the expo. Most of the time, all you need to do is to scan the QR code provided using the QR scanner on WeChat, follow the company’s WeChat page and you’ll get the free item, may it be a hand fan, a figurine of a game character, or even a soft toy.
The fun and excitement the place brings are undeniable, and well, I did managed to get a ton of contacts so I could get the latest game news directly from the source to you. Despite a few hiccups here and there, such as the lack of drinking fountains and the expensive food and drinks there, ChinaJoy 2016 is an amazing experience. It was with a heavy heart that I bade goodbye to Shanghai and its stuffy-hot weather, and head back home.