Last Sunday, I took two of my kids to the Louisville Arcade Expo. It was my fourth year going. I’ve written about our past experiences in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

As a quick overview, the Louisville Arcade Expo is a place where 100’s of people bring in their arcade games, pinball games, PC games and console games. They literally have everything. With paid admission, you can play all the games you want.

This year, it was $25 to get in the door. I don’t mind paying that for the nostalgia alone but it’s a little pricey for any kids over 10. The two kid I took with me were 10 and under, so they got in free. If my 12-year-old had tagged along, I would have had to shell out another $25. That’s a little steep to steep for tweens/teenagers, especially since mine would have wanted to leave after an hour.

Here’s the view from when you first step inside the main ballroom. You can see that the space is pretty big. They definitely had more games this year.

This is the view from the back of the room. It was packed with arcade and pinball games.

I don’t go to this event because of arcade or pinball games. They weren’t really my thing when I was a kid. I’m all about playing the old console games. I’ve owned most of the major systems going back to the Nintendo. I spent much of my youth playing video games on those systems.

What’s so crazy about video games for me is that I can remember where I was in life when I started playing particular games or consoles. I love the nostalgia of it. I can be taken back to a much simpler time. I remember how special it was to play The Oregon Trail in computer lab in elementary school or at age 14, when I was playing Sega Genesis and my stepdad asked me when I was going to get a job. Or when I see people playing Halo on the original Xbox, it takes me back to the early 2000’s when I was running the Louisville Gaming Center and organizing Halo tournaments. I love the energy in the air of people playing video games with each other. I think that’s something that’s lost these days with everyone playing online. It’s just not the same. I’ll save that for another post though.

I talked Camden into giving the original Halo a whirl. It brought back so many memories. I used to play Halo all the time. I loved getting friends together to play.

It can be tough to take my kids to the Arcade Expo because they always want to go in different directions. Camden only wanted to play Vectrex, a system from 1982 with a self-contained video display and attached controller. I’m not sure if it came with other games or not but the game that Camden was playing reminded me a lot of Asteroids. Honestly, I was blown away that he wanted to keep playing it. He’s only ever played the newest generation of console games so he shouldn’t be too impressed with the stuff I played as a kid.

Vectrex was Camden’s favorite game of the day. It was such a simple game but he really enjoyed playing it.

Maddie just wanted to go to the vendor section to buy something, anything. Last year, one of the ladies gave her a bracelet for free so she hoped that would happen again (it didn’t).

I think they liked playing the console and some PC games more because they were in side rooms that weren’t so crowded. I think it’s a little overwhelming to be in a ballroom filled with arcade and pinball games.

My kids did get to play a lot of different games and I think they had a pretty good time. While I didn’t get to play everything I wanted, it was still worth the nostalgic feeling seeing others playing them. It was fun for me to tell them about my experiences with particular games or systems.

I’d say the Sega Genesis is right up there with the classic Nintendo for me. When I walked up and saw Maddie playing this, I didn’t know that Fix-It Felix was a real game. I thought it was made up for Wreck-It Ralph.

I’ve never been much of a PC gamer. Camden played Quake with several other guys there at the Expo. They had several PCs linked together. I was glad to see games that actually captured his attention.

I had completely forgotten about Doom. I hadn’t played it in at least 20 years. It was installed on the first ever PC my parents bought back in 1993.

I did wait for and finally get the opportunity to play The Oregon Trail after waiting over an hour. They had the B&W version I played as a kid and a newer, color version. I’d imagine that it’s one of the more popular games there. After playing for a few minutes, Maddie came over and joined me.

I had forgotten that you travel The Oregon Trail with five family members. That’s exactly how many are in our family!

It was a huge treat in elementary school (in the 80’s) for us to get to play and I’ve always remembered that. My generation is actually sometimes referred to as The Oregon Trail generation because of how we’re the first generation to see such a dramatic change in technology. That’s the thing with my kids, they were born at a time after so many advancements had been made. They definitely take the Internet, tablets and video games for granted.

I know, I know. “When I was their age, I walked to two miles uphill both ways to school in the snow.”

As always, it was a fun experience.

Maybe next year, I’ll mix it up and go with friends I played video games with as a kid. I’m sure that will bring back all the memories and that’s definitely worth the price of admission.

More Pictures

See the father and son sitting on the far right? That’s The Oregon Trail station. There was always someone sitting there. A lot of time it was parents dragging their kids over a for a walk down memory lane.

This was an absolute horrible picture but this is my favorite original multiplayer console game, Goldeneye for the Nintendo 64. I remember playing with my brother and then with friends in college.

Someone actually made a full size controller where you had to work with a partner to play Street Fighter. I thought it was pretty cool.

Here’s a closer look at the life-size control pad.

You can see that there were vendors selling all kinds of things from classic video games and toys to apparel and artwork.

I couldn’t remember the name of this game but I clearly remember playing it on that 13″ black and white TV back in the 80’s.

I had to take this picture of the E.T. game. I barely remember playing it but I did watch a documentary on Netflix called Game Over. They talked about how the game tanked and crushed Atari. They also talk about how Atari buried thousands of copies in the game in a landfill. It’s worth watching. Did you know that the guy that founded Atari also founded Chuck E. Cheese’s? Crazy, right?

I’ve never heard of this system but Maddie played it for a few minutes.

This is the Atari console I remember owning as a kid.


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