Avid gamer to launch video-game convention here

Avid gamer to launch video-game convention here
Ms Elicia Lee, the organiser of GameStart 2014, hopes the new event will allow local gamers to experience the thrill of a gaming convention without having to go overseas.

SINGAPORE - Some gamers have been known to spend all their time and money on video games. That is exactly what Ms Elicia Lee, 33, is doing this year.

Ms Lee, co-founder of digital media agency Zombits, has poured her life savings into her passion for gaming and even borrowed money from her work partner and her father to fund her till October.

That is when her new start-up, Eliphant, will stage its debut event in Hall 403 at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre.

GameStart 2014 will be the first new local video-game convention since Games Convention Asia and TGX left the scene a few years ago.

Ms Lee, who has spent $70,000 so far, estimates that the final tally for staging GameStart 2014 will run close to $300,000. This includes rental, set-up cost and the flying in of well-known cosplayers and game producers for the two-day event.

As a former executive with Electronic Arts, Ms Lee drew on the industry contacts she made during her three years there to sign up big names such as Sony's PlayStation and Namco Bandai Games to showcase upcoming games at the event.

She said: "Why I was crazy enough to do this is partly because of the people I know. I also brought in my former EA boss Chris Ng as a consultant and he opened doors to Ubisoft and Asiasoft."

With two months left, she is still in discussion with Microsoft, Electronic Arts and 2K Games. She said she will not reveal any more names until they are locked in for the event. "A lot of people are interested and one of the challenges is that folks are apprehensive of a new show," she said.

She learnt a harsh lesson earlier this year when a popular cosplayer from the United States agreed to attend GameStart, but bailed on the event two months later.

But Neo Tokyo Project, a local cosplay group, has hopped on board, and it is helping to bring in established cosplayers Yasemin Arslan, from Australia, and Yuegene Fay, from Thailand. Neo Tokyo Project is organising a cosplay competition for the convention.

As the final line-up has not been finalised, Ms Lee has yet to determine the entrance fee for the event.

Her ambitious project looks impressive on paper, but she admitted that she has not visited any annual international game show, such as E3 in Los Angeles, Gamescom in Cologne, Germany or the Tokyo Game Show (TGS).

And that, she explains, is exactly what drove her to launch this event.

"If you lived in Singapore or South-east Asia, you would ordinarily not be able to attend such shows. As a gamer, I've always read about the overseas conventions, and these are awesome, awesome conventions and we've never had something like that. "

As for why it will take place in October, she explained that it was so that it would happen after next month's TGS.

"We are realistic. No one will give us anything exclusive as we are a new show. The timing makes it easier for those bringing games to TGS to bring them here as well."

This article was first published on August 20, 2014.
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