China Joy 2013 – Where's the Freakin' Door?!?!

For the last few months, Seth and I have been totally hyped to go to China Joy in Shanghai. Billed as China’s E3 and the largest gaming convention in China featuring the “most professional” Cosplay Carnival, we were excited to check it out and get our cos on. Unfortunately, the con was a let-down from the get-go.

We brought costumes for three of the four day convention. The plan for day one was just to go, scope the place out, and get our bearings so we would know what to expect for the rest of the con and dress up the other 3 days. It was a good thing we did this. We arrived by subway, but the exit nearest to the expo center was still a good 15 minute walk to the site, which we found by just following other people because there were no signs. When we got to the site, again we didn’t know which way to go for lack of signs. Left or right? We went left since there seemed to be a door that way. There was a door, but it was only for vendors. Turns out we were supposed to go the other way, which ended up being another 15 to 20 minute walk in the sun. And this weekend was the hottest in Shanghai’s history for 140 years! We finally got to the right door. We made it! Right? Wrong! We were then paraded through SEVEN EMPTY BUILDINGS with no air conditioning! It took us another 15 minutes to get to the buildings housing the event. It might seem like a little thing like door placement is rather minor to harp on about, but after walking an hour in 100+ degree weather, I was already hot, tired, and had sore feet before we even got to the first booth. It was a bad first impression that kind of left me soured for the rest of the day. Honestly, after that I was not keen to go back in full cos gear. My plan for day two was to wear a corset for a steampunk ensemble. I would have probably passed out and died. All the foreigners we spoke to had the same complaints as did other reviewers.

The con itself was pretty boring as well. No panels, no dealer’s room, no famous people, not much swag (mainly fans), nothing to keep you coming back for four days. Once you see it, there is really no reason to go back. But what is there to see? Women. For all the lonely men out there, it’s a chance to see ladies in sports bras and booty shorts. Let me clarify that I don’t have a problem with “booth babes” in general. Most events (from gaming cons, to outdoors shows, to car shows) feature “trade show models” and these ladies earn a good living standing around just looking lovely. For geek conventions in particular, the booth babes can be pretty cool when they are dressed in movie-quality gear provided by the vendor. The problem with China Joy, though, is that booth babes are pretty much the only feature. When we told our Chinese friends we were going to China Joy they replied with “oh, no one goes for the games, only for the girls.” Every booth had at least two models, but most of the booths had upwards of twenty all lined up for your ogling pleasure. And the girls really don’t seem to like it or are at least disinterested. Very few smile, instead opting for lifeless fish-eyes.

I could go on and on about how pretty much every booth (except for Blizzard’s, Guild Wars’, Popcap’s, and Magic the Gathering’s booths) objectified women in some way, but this isn’t a feminist rant about that, it’s a review of the convention as a whole. But I will state that the award for most objectifying booth would have to go to ZQ Games. Not only did they have booth babes and their game posters feature scantily clad ladies while the menfolk are in full armor, they let people test out the games and rest their weary wrists on these:

Here, let me give you a closer look:
Yes, those are boobs. Keep it classy, ZQ Games!
Most of the game booths had play test areas, but the lines were so long, we didn’t get to play any of them. Later, I decided that panels and famous people probably wouldn’t work out anyway because lines would be too long.
It was also way too loud. Every booth had music and announcers all trying to drown out the guy across from them, so it was just a cacophony of noise.
There were 5 buildings of booths, but only the first one had any anime/comics/cosplay. And it was half-empty. That is also where the had the stage for the Cosplay Carnival, which was held constantly for all four days, but people in the carnival showed up, went backstage to dress, did their presentation, then went backstage to undress. The stage was surrounded by a sea of people all holding up their cameras to get pics. A shorty like me had no chance of seeing anything. There was hardly anyone walking around in cos. I got much better cosplay pics at the China Joy here in Changsha than I did in Shanghai, which is really sad to say.
My friend, Cherith, though, bless her heart, said we should go in cosplay on Saturday anyway and rock it! So we did.

We had custom costumes made by a seamstress here in Changsha and they turned out amazing! It was way too hot to go all 4 days, so we only made use of one costume set, but we got a lot of mileage out of it. We showed up, stood in an empty area, and people lined up to take pictures of/with us. It was pretty fun. We should have set up a booth and charged for it 😛

All-in-all, while we tried to make the best of it, China Joy is not worth the effort to attend. We won’t be going back next year, but we heard about an actual comic convention that was held a couple of weeks before. Maybe we will try to check that out next year. You can check out all of the pictures of Shanghai’s China Joy 2013 over at our Facebook page.