Dallas Geek at Let's Play Gaming Expo 2018
Last weekend, after we spent most of Saturday & Sunday interviewing authors for our new Spotlight Sunday segment, we had the incredibly fun opportunity to walk down to the Irving Convention Center in Los Colinas to experience the Let's Play Gaming Expo for the first time! While we had both looked at the general details of what this convention would be like, neither of us knew exactly what to expect when we walked in other than the fact that it was about video games, both classic & current. What we actually got to experience was something truly special!
When we walked in to the first floor exhibit hall, we were inundated with the sounds of almost every era of gaming that has existed! The first quarter of the hall was filled with classic arcade cabinets ranging from Joust & Space Invaders to Area 51. Only about a third of the floor was actually filled with vendors, including one of our favorite purveyors of classic & current video games, Game Over Videogames. The rest of the exhibit hall was nothing but table after table of console & PC gamers setup for mini-tournaments for just about every major multiplayer game from the past 30 years. The final spot of reverence in the hall, however, was reserved for the main stage, where the headliner tournaments were happening. While the crowds waxed & waned as the day went on (this was Sunday after all), the largest crowd, surprisingly enough, showed up to watch during the final hour of the convention. When you want to get someone like us, who is new to the convention, hyped for what's in store, this is by far the best way to do it. Between the neon lights & the arcade sounds, this was everything we had hoped for; and this was only half of what the convention had to offer!
On the third floor, we discovered, to our surprise, a wonderful 3-way split of the entire floor between indie game developers, classic video games, & table top gaming. The indie developers featured several genres, from traditional platformers to VR. On the other end of the spectrum, the table top games featured 3 & 1/2 rooms full of open gaming tables, with games ranging form Ticket to Ride to Knights of Glory. They even had an entire section for figure painting for games like D&D & Warhammer, sponsored by Reaper Paint & Take. In a place all about gaming, it was incredibly comforting to see the very origins of gaming represented so well.
Our favorite section, though, was the classic/retro gaming room that was set directly between the indie developers & the table top games. As these were the games that Mike & I grew up on, we have a soft spot for the games from the 80's & 90's, and this room did not disappoint! Every console from the pre-2000's era was represented, from the Atari to the N64 & original Playsation. Kids & adults filled the room, sharing the experience of these classic games between those of us that grew up with these games & those who were only now playing them for the first time. While we loved the Primal Rage tournament being projected onto the front wall & the Tetris tournament being played side by side on original Ataris, it was the open console sharing that was the most nostalgic for us. Every one of the consoles being played had been donated by people who wanted to share these games with complete strangers, just for the love of the games. With online gaming today, the opportunity to sit down in the same room with a group of people to play Mario Kart, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, or Super Smash Bros is such a rare thing.
While we would like to say that we have some unique perspective to add to this, a mother that we spoke to actually summed it up perfectly. She & her husband brought their kids up from Austin for this convention all because they thought this would be something fun for their whole family to do. What she ended up seeing, was their kids faces light up as they got to play these games that were made well before they were even born. She said it was one of the best things that they could have hoped for. Honestly, that's the only endorsement I ever need for this kind of event!