Tokyo Game Show: The Mecca of Japanese Digital Entertainment

The end of summer in Japan is marked by the largest video game trade show in the far east. I’ve attended the Tokyo Game Show (TGS) for the past few years and can honestly say it’s my favorite convention in Japan. Why? Because it’s inexpensive. Advance tickets are sold for as low as ten bucks. You can’t beat that.

It’s a trade show where folks in the gaming industry come together to mingle and show off their latest and greatest projects. Being that it’s Japan based, it’s focused on the Japanese market. You won’t find many western publishers or developers.

It might’ve been because I carried around a nice camera while wearing a button-up shirt, but on a few occasions I was asked if I was in the industry. When you’re a foreigner at the Tokyo Game Show, it’s assumed that you’re there for the business. Everyone’s eager to chat you up and give you an elevator pitch, especially indie developers. It’s actually flattering. I had an amazing conversation with a German publisher about the importance of maintaining physical media. Music, movies, books and video games. The entertainment industry is rapidly shifting to a digital only service, but there’s still a market demand for physical media for preservation purposes.

In all truth, i’m not much of a gamer anymore. While I occasionally enjoy playing video games, I’m not nearly as tuned into the market like I was when I was younger. The Tokyo Game Show serves a litmus test for me. A form of re-education into the world of gaming.

It’s always nice to see intellectual properties I enjoyed as a child still being worked on today, like Mario and Sonic.

Of course, they’re many games to test out and play at TGS. I got to demo a bunch of games that’re still in development. Being that I’m an old school fan of Dragon Ball, I had to try out the new title being released early next year.

A Japanese telecommunication’s company setup a 5G network to demonstrate online mobile gaming. We were all playing a racing game on the same network. It’s crazy how fast cellular technology has developed. Remember what phones were like ten years ago?

If you read my Shenmue blog, you’ll know that I’m a fan of the classic series. In the accompanying video, I purposely avoided discussing the new game currently in development, because I wanted to focus on the first Shenmue and it’s connection to Yokosuka.

Its been nearly twenty years since the last game was released, and the long awaited sequel was not available to play on the showroom floor. That makes me nervous.

Shenmue was a cult classic that never got a true conclusion to it’s cliffhanger ending in the second game. The third game being released in November is supposed to revitalize the series.

While there’s debate in the west on the employment of promotional models at these trade shows, Japan isn’t part of that discussion. The Tokyo Game Show has promotional models in spades.

I noticed many people will undoubtedly take pictures of the models, but few take pictures WITH them. So I’m often the guy upsetting the horde of photographers to get a selfie with the ladies.

Growing up, I always wanted to go to the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in California. It was, and still is, the premier trade show for gaming. While its now open to the public, it used to be an industry-only event. I’d read about its big announcements and upcoming games in magazines (remember those).

For me, the Tokyo Game Show the representation of my adolescence all under one roof. It’s a blessing to live in Japan and attend a gaming trade show, especially one that’s nearly as old as E3. While the Tokyo Game Show isn’t as big as E3, it’s importance to the Japanese gaming market cannot be overstated.

Let me know in the comments below.
Have you been to the Tokyo Game Show? Or any other gaming trade show?

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