Yesterday, I took my boys (and one of my nephews) to the Louisville Arcade Expo. After our experience last year, I really looked forward to visiting again and playing games from my childhood.

As a quick recap, the Louisville Arcade Expo is a big meet-up at a hotel conference center where people bring their Arcade games, pinball games and old gaming consoles (there wasn’t anything newer than the Sega Dreamcast).

The event was even more packed than last year with gamers of all ages. A lot of people brought their kids so they could show them the games they (the adults) played as kids.

It’s amazing how quickly I was taken back to my childhood. I guess that’s what I love about video games. Playing them takes me back to a time in my life when I didn’t have to worry about anything other than doing my homework or household chores.

My kids are getting to the age where I can remember what I was doing at that age. It’s crazy how much the games have progressed. Watch someone play Double Dribble for any amount of time and you’ll start thinking “I thought THIS game was awesome?”

I wasn’t a huge arcade gamer or pinballer when I was a kid. Most of my gaming memories were on the Nintendo and Sega Genesis where I played countless hours of Tecmo Super Bowl, Contra, Mario Brothers and many other games that I had forgotten (until yesterday). Most of the games I played were sports-related. I loved anything that kept track of stats.

Last year, I managed to keep the kids interested for only about an hour before I finally agreed to leave. This year, we stayed for almost two and a half hours. It was pretty amazing considering there were a lot of a people and we usually had to wait to play the games we wanted. I really enjoyed telling them about the games I played when I was a kid.

My all-time favorite game at the Expo was Oregon Trail. Seeing it took me back to elementary school where we played the game as a special treat in computer lab. I think it was the hardest game to access during the expo. There was always someone playing it. One kid (college-aged) kept taking pictures of the screens with his phone. My oldest son did finally get to play and would have probably played longer had the other kids not pushed to move along.

The quote of the day came from my youngest son after we showed him the Oregon Trail floppy disk. He said, “I thought all disks were round.” I realized he’s never seen a floppy disk of any kind in his short life.

Here are some photos I took during my visit with the kids:

Overall, the kids and I had a great experience. It was especially great because I didn’t have to spend any money on them (it was free for kids 10 and under). That’s rare when you take kids anywhere.

Later in the evening, I met up with some friends and we played some games. My favorite was Contra (renamed as “Probotector”). The “up, up, down, down…” cheat even worked. It was fun talking about the old games and how gaming has changed for us since we now have our own kids playing video games.

I even spoke to Whitney Roberts, one of the hosts of the Broken Token podcast, about how they got started. They do a great job with their podcast. It was really cool because I’ve been spending a lot of time learning the ins and outs of podcasting. I’m planning on launching my own podcast within the coming weeks.

I love video games because I can escape whatever I’m dealing with the in real world, whether it’s work-related, finances/bills or something with the family. Being at the Expo put me in that video gaming bubble. I felt like a kid again and didn’t have to think about anything else. Sometimes, that’s what video gaming is all about.

I appreciated the nostalgic walk down memory lane (again) and will be looking forward to next year.

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