It was diverse, inclusive, loud, and exciting. ESGS brought together different types of gamers, genres, and developers in one exciting and jam-packed weekend.

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A majority of the gamers of our country are huge fans of competitive games. But it’s also good that the convention focuses on non-competitive games, game development, and other aspects as well.

Intense competitive games were lined up for fans of MOBAs, FPS games, and Fighting games. Mainstream developers and indie developers held demos for their new and upcoming mobile and PC games. Top gaming hardware and peripherals brands showcased their new products, rigs, and gear. And surprise, surprise, even anime and K-poppers were welcome to the event with cosplay and K-pop dance competitions prepared.

It’s not exactly worthy to be called “the Philippines’ PAX”, but it’s a great start nonetheless. There could be more games to showcase, more genres to touch, and a better representation of consoles and console gamers. Still, it reached my expectations as it gave almost equal focus to e-Sports and the gaming industry in the country.

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I wanted to try this from Samsung but everyone really wanted to jump in the car and enjoy the experience.

Almost all corners of the floor were stages reserved for e-Sports competitions and almost each competitive game cycled around those stages so that more and more people can be exposed to these games. At the center was a large area for non-professional tournaments. Surrounding the area were the exhibits of both mainstream and indie developers, and the showcases of top brands like Samsung, Steelseries, Razer, Dell and MSi.

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Oh the games you can play with a motherboard like this.

I spent a lot of time participating in the demos offered by the developers and chatting with them to get to know their games. I even got the chance to try out some of the games using the Oculus Rift!

While there were a lot of game developers offering games with new twists to popular concepts, three games stood out to me the most.

The first is Kuna, from Synergy88 studios. While still on one month development, the game almost looks good enough to put out on Steam’s Greenlight. Almost.

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I got to try Kuna with the Oculus Rift! I’m not in the photo, because I was flying solo at the event, but nonetheless, it was great to finally experience this device! Kuna was pretty scary, too!

Kuna, if I remember correctly, is a horror game that takes place in a birthing clinic. While giving birth, a storm supposedly ravages the clinic, and you wake up to find that the clinic is in horrible disarray. Then jump-scares happen. They’ve got the atmosphere and graphics on-point, and I experienced no glitches at all, but the story doesn’t seem quite finished yet. For a demo that’s presented after one month of developing though, this game seems promising. Not only is it promising, the game’s story is interesting as I’ve never encountered a horror game where the setting is a birthing clinic and the main character is a woman who just gave birth.

The next two games came from Javi Almirante of UP ACM (University of the Philippines Association for Computing Machinery). They may seem like ordinary arcade games, but the charming concepts he came up with can potentially turn out into huge game-changing ones.

The first game I tried is Eureka! A game where you are presented four bars and four colours, and you figure out how the game works. Hence, “Eureka!” The twist is that the game changes its rules every time you lose. It’s definitely a new concept that should be tried for bigger games. Think of all the rage Let’s Play videos a game like this could generate?

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I got the game’s logic in two tries, and the whole concept after the third.

The second game he had to offer is “Jumping Jean.” It looks a lot like Mario, except, you aren’t Mario. You’re the little brown mushroom that’s set to kill the main character. It’s a novel idea as most of the games we play lets us be the good guy and never the little bad one. Imagine that in a triple-A game? I would buy it in a heartbeat just to see how it feels like.

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This one was a little more difficult to play. Nonetheless, I need to find anti-hero/pure villainous games now.

Small games with good concepts are proof of the wit and creativity our developers have. We need more people to pay attention to our gaming industry to support its growth.

After checking out the new games, I naturally had to check out the e-Sports stages. I watched some DotA 2 (a game I haven’t played at all), and again the same shoutcasters from PGF 2014 were there, and I was highly entertained. The League of Legends shoutcaster however, though joined by one-half of the DoTA 2 pair, was a little off. Still, the games were entertaining and my favorite line was “MAMATAY KANG PUNO KA! (Die tree, die!).”  Though meta-wise, we might  be at par with our South Korean counterparts, we’re definitely getting there.

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It’s not just DoTa and LoL. Relatively new MOBA games were highlighted at the convention, too.

As a final note, ESGS has been such a blast and I loved the idea of putting together different developers, genres, games, and competitions and giving them a large space so that everyone who attends won’t feel left out. Also, Senator Bam Aquino had a short recorded speech for the gaming community present at the event. It’s a small gesture, but it gives me hope that our government would finally pay serious attention that our developers and gamers deserve for our gaming industry to fully reach its potential. I know now that next year’s event will be bigger, better, and hopefully include more games, platforms, and genres. Perhaps more potential investors and government officials might show up and help out, too?

P.S. Cosplay photos will be on a separate post and should be out within the week.

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