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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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