Ani-Com & Games Hong Kong: virtual reality takes centre stage

Gamers waiting to play Pokemon Go can get some satisfaction with hands-on demos of PlayStation VR, while cosplayers, anime fans and comic lovers will also get their fill of fun and instruction at fair

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 July, 2016, 6:03am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 July, 2016, 1:41pm

Ani-Com & Games Hong Kong returns this week with more cosplay, dance and figure design competitions as well as what is billed as the largest Doujinshi (Japanese manga and visual novel) event. But taking centre stage will be a host of virtual reality games that are scheduled to hit retail stores later this year.

To run between July 29 and August 2 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, the annual fair is expected to offer temporary relief for frustrated gamers who are still waiting for the official local release of Pokemon Go, the augmented reality mobile game that has been taking the world by storm in the past fortnight.

On July 28, Sony Interactive Entertainment Hong Kong will announce the launch details of PlayStation VR in Asia. Then the company will showcase the virtual reality headset for the PlayStation 4 console at the city’s biggest game and comics fair together with titles such as Hatsune Miku VR: Future Live, Final Fantasy XIV VR Experience and Batman: Arkham VR. (PlayStation VR will be released in the US and Europe in October, priced at US$399.)

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“Virtual reality is a new milestone in the world of gaming,” says Jacqueline Chiu, assistant general manager of SIEH. “In the past, users stared at the television screen when playing video games. But when you wear the VR device, the visual is 360 degrees and it really does feel like you’re physically situated in the gaming world.”

One of the most anticipated titles will be Batman: Arkham VR, a part combat and part puzzle game that debuted at the recent Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. Its demo was positively received, with Timothy J. Seppala at Engadget concluding: “Throughout the experience, I found myself smiling like an idiot. Each previous Arkham game has been jokingly referred to as a ‘Batman simulator’ by fans, so it wasn’t until I donned the Batsuit and investigated a crime scene in VR that it felt like I was actually in the Caped Crusader’s boots.”

Local gamers will get a chance to run and fly around the dark and gritty world of Gotham, too, though the 1,400 quota for an hands-on experience offered through online registration is already full. There will still be limited places available for walk-ins during the fair.

Another extraordinary virtual reality app on display is Tilt Brush by Google. Unveiled only in June, the app allows users to create three-dimension arts by drawing strokes and lines in the air. This technology is expected to appeal to people outside of the artistic community.

The Tilt Brush, available on the HTC Vive, will be showcased by Google Play but the painting experience is exclusive to the VIP players only. However, others can still get their dose of fun by joining the on-site game battles hosted by Google Play along with 11 other game developers. Two special feaures - "Indie Corner" and "Made in Hong Kong" - will also be available on Google Play store, which gamers can access online.

Anime fans and comic lovers will get their fix at Creative Paradise 03, the third, and largest, edition of the Doujinshi event to date that is attended by close to 300 exhibitors and will run between July 29 and 31.

“We hope more people in Hong Kong can understand the creative process [that went into these works],” says Sam Yip, the spokesperson of Creative Paradise 03.

The organiser has invited seasoned veterans in the industry to participate in exchange forums with local fans. Among the impressive list of guest speakers are Hirotaka Yoshida, founder and president of Comic Toranoana, which runs a chain of comic bookshops in Japan and also supports many Doujinshi creators, and Katsushika Ota, editor of Kodansha, a major publisher of manga magazines in Japan.

Renowned cosplayers such as Reika from Japan and RyuuGaruda from Taiwan will offer tips on make-up and designing props. And to the delight of local amateurs, top illustrators such as Haruhiko Mikimoto will be sharing advice on character design.

29 July to 2 August 2016, 10am to 9pm, Hall 1 & 3, Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre, Inquiries: 2344 0415 Admission: HK$35