tgsiga.jpgWhen I asked developers in the indie game area at Tokyo Game Show how they felt about its placement, I also asked them if they had been to other shows and if so, how they felt their exhibitor experiences at TGS compared to those others. Their responses covered a range of topics from how much business they could get done and how many attendees the shows have to atmosphere and ease of setup.

The perspective of Japanese indie developers at TGS

Of the Japanese indie developers I spoke to at TGS, most had only been to BitSummit and/or Tokyo Indie Fest before. Yuichiro Kitao of Gemdrops found comparing it to those shows to be like comparing apples and oranges, but that overall TGS suits his purposes better than the others do. "At BitSummit and Tokyo Indie Fest it's mostly game creators who come to the events," he says. "Seeing what users think of my games is my goal, and I think TGS is better for that."

Takumi Naramura of Nigoro pointed out that attendees to events like BitSummit and Tokyo Indie Fest are already familiar with indie games. "Naturally there are a lot more people who don't know much about indie games at TGS," he says. "Some might play the indie games even though they know nothing about indies, so it's an opportunity to gain new customers."

Masahiro Onoguchi of Quad Arrow seemed to want BitSummit and TGS to meet in the middle. "BitSummit feels more indie," he says, "but TGS feels more properly done. I want BitSummit to retain that indie spirit, but be better run. On the other hand, I'd like TGS to become a place where more of that indie spirit can come out."

Developer Satto Nakajima of Picorinne Soft said that he and his partner don't speak any English, and although that had caused some problems it was still exciting to be at TGS. "The fact that people come from all over the world is part of the appeal of TGS," he says. "More than BitSummit and Tokyo Indie Fest, TGS makes it feel like our games could spread internationally."

Only one of the Japanese developers I talked to, Akihiko Koseki of Dice Creative, had been to shows overseas. His game is a simple racing game for mobile devices called PooPride. The game is designed with a serious goal in mind: getting people more comfortable with poop because it can be very informative for health reasons. When I asked him how he would compare Tokyo Game Show to other shows he's been to, he responded, "It varies from show to show, but my favorite was Gamescom. German children love poop, so it left a good impression."

Opinions of overseas developers exhibiting at TGS

Marc Flury of Drool felt that TGS is one of the better shows he's been to "The equipment rental was reasonably priced and easy to do, and then today the crowd has been amazing," he says. "Having this indie section actually helps a lot because everyone who comes here is psyched about these games. You're not put next to Call of Duty or something."

Quadrant developer undef praised the sheer number of people developers can reach at an event the size of TGS. However, he likes the atmosphere of smaller shows better. "Other festivals, like BitSummit, are just more fun and laid back and more cozy. I feel like you're also better taken care of there," he says.

Julia Keren-Detar of Untame thought the TGS indie game area was actually more crowded than that of Gamescom. "It's pretty impressive, considering that we're off in a different section of the conference," she says.

Developer Alex Rose's comparisons focused on the business aspects of TGS. "The passes are really good at TGS because you can just see who's press. Also, there's a lot of big press that doesn't come to some of the English shows I go to." He also says that TGS is great for finding localizers for all languages, not just Japanese.

That isn't to say that Rose thought TGS is without flaws. "TGS doesn't give you a press list," he says. "They have the business matching system, but I don't think it's really good for indies," he says. "I'm running my booth and I'm just a dude, so I can't really meet people in a special meeting area." In spite of that, however, he met some important people from companies like Sony and Microsoft last year and feels like TGS was key to securing the future of his game, Super Rude Bear Ressurection, which is now being funded by Sony.

Although Rose thinks there are ways other shows are better, he finds that TGS is well-rounded. "Really, I divide shows into four categories," he says. "One, is it fun to be at for hanging around with people? Two, can you get good business stuff done there? Three, is there good press? And four, are there consumers there? TGS nails kind of all of them."