It’s taken 2 years, but gamescom asia 2021 (which is on-going till 17th October) has finally made its debut. Originally slated to take place last year, the Covid-19 pandemic quickly put the kibosh on it. With it raging and no vaccine in sight, no way was the show ever going to be held.

A year on, things have certainly improved.

We have vaccines now and there’s even oral medication that’s on the way that’s supposedly effective at preventing serious issues stemming from Covid-19. It certainly looks as though that we’re finally at the final stretch where Covid-19 is concerned.

gamescom asia 2021 was my first gaming convention in 2 years and it’s certainly a much different affair than what I was used to.

For one, there’s much more regimentation to it.

In the past, you just showed up and did you stuff.

Now though, there’s the PET (Pre-Event Testing) to be done first.

Before you even get set on the road to be tested though, verification’s done (by looking at your TraceTogether app) to see if you’re vaccinated.

Not fully vaccinated? Thank you, come again. You’re not entering, bub.

The whole process kicked off at 8am, though I only came at around 9am. Verification checks done, Sky and I head to nab our Media passes for the conference.

Done with that, we were escorted to a station where we picked up our test kits.

Then we made our way to individual tables where we swabbed ourselves, dipped the swab in a formula and then sanitized the table by wiping it down with wet wipes.

Then we handed off the formula tube to be analyzed, got a barcode to tie us to our results and sat around waiting for the 30 or so minutes for the results.

I love that the organizers took note of teeny details. They gave us some ziploc baggies to put our trash in (the swabs, the wrappers from the wipes) and that they gave out copious amounts of wipes for what is a relatively clean process. It really set my mind at ease that things were being handled as professionally as possible.

The seating area where you can wait was also socially distanced and it was all clean and properly demarcated.

Getting our results was also done incredibly well. We just went up to the scanning counter, scanned our barcodes to our results and upon confirmation that we tested negative, we given a blue sticker to paste on our passes.

That was all there was to it!

From registration to getting our results, things were done incredibly smoothly and professionally. Everybody was wearing masks, there was ample safe distancing…you never felt as if the organizers had cut corners at all.

Verified to be virus free (woo hoo!), we headed up to the hall where gamescom asia 2021 was taking place.

As the event was a hybrid, the convention was held on site (for media and industry) and online for the general public. Due to that, there wasn’t much of a crowd, as only those invited were in attendance. Still, it was great moving around looking at booths of up and coming games!

We met up with Cheryll from SGGA who introduced us to SGGA’s awesome Virtual Village, which was like a virtual gamescom asia 2021 meetup area, with a distinctly Singaporean touch.

It’s not a close substitute for not being able to attend gamescom asia 2021 in person, but Virtual Village is charming, cool, has pretty good music and is definitely worthy of some of your time. Just head on over to the SGGA site to try it!

We didn’t have much time to check out all the booths, as the conference proper was about to take place. We did manage to snap some shots of the area though!

We headed to another part of the hall for that, one with specially prepared tables and chairs.

I don’t know why though, but the majority of those in attendance sat waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay at the back of the hall. Not us though. I grabbed Sikai and head over to the first table nearest to the stage that didn’t have a ‘Reserved’ sign on it.

Why come to a convention and sit right at the back, yeah?

We got a good view of the action, but sadly, some of the guests who were scheduled to be on stage weren’t able to attend live in person. It’s a bit of a disappointment but they did video in so it wasn’t a total loss.

The conferences were all cool, giving a ton of insight into the gaming industry from various notable figures I particularly enjoyed the Deal Makers Panel. You rarely hear about the business side of the gaming industry and to hear the experts from major companies talking about their decision making process is really enlightening.

Honestly, I think it made up for some of the guests not showing up…I only wished it went on for more than the 40 minutes allotted to it. I’d have sat through it if it was 2 hours or more! It was that interesting.

After the lunch break (with food awesomely provided), @6kimchuan and I decided to tour the booths available. One of them belongs to No Average Joe.

gamescom asia 2021

The local company’s mostly a production house that’s recently started to dabble in making games. They had a cool Singaporean flavored shooter called OTOT (Own Time Own Target) on display that pit two players against each other in a fixed arena.

Think of it as dodgeball with destructible cover…and that the dodgeballs are replaced with projectiles. Sikai used a character called Saman Lady, while I picked the Durian King (or something…memory escapes me).

I got my ass handed to me because Sikai’s Saman Lady had a damn fast shooting rate while my Durian dood fired these slowing greening blobs (which I assume were durians) that slowly wafted into the opponent’s side.

All in all, a pretty fun game but one’s that only in Alpha. According to the reps from No Average Joe, the company’s still looking to tie up with professional developers to help them flesh out the game for the public. If you’re a developer, why not hit them up? Tell them we sent you!

Overall, I’d call gamescom asia 2021 a great success. It confidently showed that a major expo can be held even in the pandemic and that with stringent measures and checks, nothing is impossible. In fact, I honestly prefer conventions done this way…there aren’t any crowds and getting some hands-on time with the games is incredibly easy!

The only thing I hope that gamescom asia can improve on in the future?

Power outlets.

I was taking notes on my notebook and it quickly dawned upon me that the batter wasn’t going to hold up for the whole day. Neither was my handphone and I didn’t pack any spare power banks for the day. There definitely needs to be power outlets at tables for charging devices.

Other than that though, gamescom asia 2021 is a great way to kickstart gaming conventions in Singapore again! Really looking forward to what comes next!

Sal's been in the industry since the early 2000s. He's written for a ton of gaming and tech publications including Playworks, Hardwarezone, HWM and GameAxis. Recently, Sal served as a juror for the Indie Game Awards at Taipei Game Show 2020. A geek and hardcore gamer, Sal will play everything, on any platform.