Editor’s note: Game Market took place in Tokyo on October 29-30, 2022, and Saigo — who translates game rules between Japanese and English and who tweets about new JP games — has translated a day 1 report about this event from Takuya Ono, who runs the Table Games in the World blog. Mr. Ono has given permission to reprint the photos from his post. Many thanks to Saigo! —WEM
On October 29 and 30 under cloudless autumn skies, Tokyo Game Market 2022 Autumn took place at Tokyo Big Sight. East Halls 1, 2, and 3 covering 25690 sq. m. provided the largest venue ever for the show. The number of exhibitor booths also increased to 890, almost achieving the size of the show in pre-COVID-19 days. According to the announcement by Game Market Management Office, the attendance was 12,000 on day 1 and 9,000 on day 2, adding up to 21,000.
This is the entrance to the venue, Tokyo Big Sight. East Halls are at the far end, approximately 500 meters away across the connecting bridge.
As at previous Game Markets, an early entry system with special tickets was adopted on Day 1. The regular ticket costs 1,500 yen, but visitors can enter the venue one hour earlier for 3,000 yen. The 2,000 early tickets had been sold out a few days before the event, so 2,000 people must have been in the waiting line at the start of the show.
As the doors opened at 11:00 a.m., waves of people with arm bands filled the venue.
After 12:00, when general admission began, the venue became even more crowded. The aisles were wider than even those at SPIEL, but there was congestion everywhere. Thanks to people carrying large luggage, it was difficult even to find room to stop at some booths to have a look at the displayed items. The rest areas with pipe chairs were nice for resting between moving around with large luggage.
Here is a view of the exhibition halls. The block booths for companies and other groups are at the far end on the photo, and the standard booths divided into smaller sections are in the front.
Board game comedian Tetsuya Ikeda carrying a cajon backpack full of board games was walking around with Sensei, who co-hosts with him the YouTube channel 解決!ボードゲームクリニック (“Problem Solved! Board Game Clinic”).
According to Keiji Kariya, the general manager of Game Market Management Office, since the booking of the venue is done a year in advance, they had booked a large venue in anticipation of the end of the COVID-19 crisis. All exhibitor applications were accepted, and there was enough room also for rest areas with pipe chairs, but this will not be the case next time if the venue becomes smaller with more exhibitors. It is difficult to predict participation and attendance because the increase is not as steady as it was before the COVID-19 crisis.
Mr. Kariya will leave Arclight, which hosts this show, so this would be his last time to lead the Game Market Management Office. “I’ll enjoy this!”, so he says.
The exhibitors at block booths made use of the wide area for their displays.
Oink Games, gaining momentum with their Spiel des Jahres Nominee SCOUT, had a SCOUT vending machine at their booth. Their two new games are Make the Difference, a game in which you draw and add differences to pictures, and Quickity Pickity, a game to collect fruits in real time. The version of SCOUT from One More Game! was sold for the last time at this Game Market. Then the Oink Games version, which has been sold only outside Japan, will go on sale also in Japan.
Sugorokuya had arranged, in a food stall style, several sections in their booth to demo their games, including the new game 音速飯店 / Onsoku Hanten (“Sonic Restaurant”). A large gong was heard every time “Onsoku Hanten” was played.
Arclight displayed QuANT of the “Kaiju on the Earth” series. This fourth game in the series is currently on crowdfunding. International titles that would be released after Game Market, such as Wingspan Asia, were also on large display. There was also a long line of people at the back for the pre-sales of the Japanese edition of Eclipse: Second Dawn for the Galaxy and other notable new titles.
The joint block booth specializing in murder mystery games was also very popular, as at the previous Game Market. It is often difficult to get an overview of murder mystery titles because of the spoiler ban, but here visitors can listen to the creators explain the appeal of each title before you decide whether to buy it or not.
Itten, which had also exhibited at SPIEL in October 2022, had Ninja Master (by Reiner Knizia) as the latest title in their Funbrick Series. English editions of five titles in the Funbrick series, including Ninja Master, are currently on Kickstarter and have already raised over 4 million yen.
Gamestore Banesto has already imported to sell some new titles from SPIEL ’22. A long waiting line formed here as well, and these games became sold out one after another.
It is worth noting that a real car was on display at this Game Market. GGF-T, the publisher of Asobougu (“play-tionery”) games, in which players flick special erasers with special ballpoint pens, hosted the 1st Supercar Eraser Dropping Contest with live commentary.
Dream Blossom demoed the tennis game Swing Ball. Players hit the ball attached to the string with a racket in order to swing the ball to their opponent. It reminded me of Galeria in SPIEL.
At the Toukasai booth, more than twenty groups jointly exhibited boardgame-related handmade goods and books. The spot with lovely board game accessories gathered in one place was like a jewelry store.
At the KADOKAWA booth, along with the Japanese edition of a Call of Cthulhu game and a horror murder mystery, the card game うんこカレー / Unko Curry (“Poop Curry”) was on display. It is a game of having your opponents take some of the curry cards which have poop on the back. It is scheduled to be released in December 2022.
At the special booth for “make.ctrl.Japan 4”, visitors could play digital games with unusual handmade controllers. In みんなでもぐらたたかれ / Minna de Mogura Tatakare (“Whac-Us-Moles”), players pop their heads up from holes while avoiding being detected by the sensor and whacked by the mallet.
In the traditional game play area, along with Rummikub, Jun Kusaba, the founder of Game Market, introduced Okey from Turkey and Chinchón from Spain. He said that, although they are all rummy games, they all have interesting features with differences such as whether to use the tiles/cards in one’s hand or those in the play area to build melds.
At the booth of M. League, a professional mahjong league that has received a lot of media exposure in recent years, there was an area to play mahjong with M. Leaguers wearing uniforms. Crowds of people gathered to see the professional skills.
There were so many standard booths that it was difficult to check all of them. Still, it is vital to see them all as hot groups and well-known designers presented their new games there. Azb.Studio, whose latest games constantly go viral and are displayed in a fun way, released The Art War, a card game using parodies of classical art works.
The new games from Loser Dogs’ Toryo Hojo, who cleverly creates board games themed on topical scandals, are ANGRY!!, 国葬最前線 / Kokusou Saizensen (“National Funeral Frontline”) and けつ○あな確定リーチのリーチ演出を考える / Ketsu ○ Ana Kakutei Reach no Reach Enshutsu wo Kangaeru (“Planning the Direction to Determine the Ass”).
Yougakuji Zen temple’s Puninokai, who specializes in creating Buddhist-themed board games, is currently on crowdfunding for their game おえかきネハンズ / Oekaki Nehanzu (“Painting Buddha’s Nirvana”). (In the photo, I pretend to be the zen priest exhibitor in the booth.)
BUNGU GAMES is a group established by games designers from Nagoya and other regions of Japan to produce games using stationeries, such as document sleeves and pencils.
At this Game Market, a large number of international participants were seen among both exhibitors and visitors after the easing of COVID-19 entry restrictions. With many games available only here, Game Market has become a treasure trove for overseas board game enthusiasts and publishers. Here is a photo of myself with the people I happened to meet at the reception when I went there for my press pass. From left to right: myself, James Nathan, who writes for Opinionated Gamers in the USA, Leon Scheuber from Germany, Matthieu d’Epenoux from Cocktail Games in France, and Yannick, who helps as an interpreter.
This concludes my report on Day 1. My report ends here because I could not visit the show on Day 2. Meanwhile, the next one, Tokyo Game Market 2023 Spring, will take place on May 13 (Sat) and 14 (Sun). (Game Market 2023 Osaka will not take place.) I look forward to the opportunity for many fellow board game enthusiasts to gather again.