When ChinaJoy started 16 years ago, it used to be all about… showgirls. People went for that because China’s gaming industry had so little to offer.

But everything has changed, since China is now the biggest gaming market. The 4 day convention in Shanghai is a game and gadget bonanza, with 340,000 people expected to be attending this year despite a typhoon heading straight for the city.

Not only are domestic tech giants such as Tencent and Xiaomi releasing new products during ChinaJoy, foreign juggernauts like Sony and Microsoft also have a major presence this year. Even Facebook, which is banned in China, has a booth at ChinaJoy.

Ubisoft installed a tiny amphitheatre inside its booth.

And our overall verdict of Day One in ChinaJoy? It is like part college orientation, part Black Friday and part Coachella... except with a dude-to-dudette ratio easily over 1000:1

A dizzying array of giveaways. Massive queues. Stampedes of people running from pavilion to pavilion. Fast food restaurants trashed during lunch hours. Nonstop PUBG streams on ginormous screens. Eardrum-shattering anime music.

And lots of makeups on cosplayers and showgirls.

Like… LOTS.

(At one point, I wasn’t sure if a group of men in police garb were real police or cosplayers.)

Cosplayers dress in every color imaginable at ChinaJoy.

There’s a visible difference at this show between booths set up by Chinese companies and those by Western companies.

Microsoft and Nvidia’s pavilions definitely feel more like E3, with lots of devices for gamers to get their hands on games.

On the other hand, Chinese companies typically feature a big stage with a humongous screen. They’ll put on esports matches or showgirl performances all the time.

It is so different from, say, the Rise Conference in Hong Kong, which is more about entrepreneurs and networking. (Sorry boss.)

People braved the typhoon to cross this massive square connecting all the pavilions.

With access only costing around US$25 for the day, many visitors flew in from other cities just to attend ChinaJoy. The vibe is casual enough that many just sat on the floor and watched games on big screens.

And that’s all despite the bad weather. Typhoon be damned, the crowd still showed up on time. (But I’m not gonna lie: Rubbing shoulders with gamers felt extra grimy today.)

Maybe it’s the fatigue talking, there’s creativity and genuine enthusiasm flowing in the air. And I could smell it.

It’s a lot of fun. It’s also exhausting and a sensory overload, but it’s fun.

We'll have much more from ChinaJoy over the next week. But for now, check out my Facebook live from the show floor.