Game On Expo 2016 – High Score or Game Over?

Outside of a few video game franchises, modern video games just don’t do it for me any longer. I grew up playing video games and until the past year or two, I never stopped. Now I’ll play older games more often than I play anything new, which is why I enjoy watching a few YouTube channels such as The Gaming Historian, The Game Chasers, and The Completionist. It’s a chance for me to take a trip down memory lane with some of my favorite games with their videos.

Game On Expo gives me the ultimate nostalgic trip. It is a celebration of retro video games with sprinkles of modern gaming to attract the widest audience of gamers possible. This year the guest list included industry professionals, YouTube creators, voice actors, and more. While not every panel was at capacity, plenty of panels were standing room only, attendees packed into many of the panels that were put on during the weekend. Attendees also waited in line to get an autograph from Steve Downes and Jen Taylor, the voices of Master Chief and Cortana respectively. On a side note, I thought it was interesting how Game On Expo handled signings, the guests were in closed off room and attendees were ushered in one at a time from what I was told. It’s kind of a cool way to handle signings but I imagine it slows down the process considerably.

The main attraction to the convention was the vendor hall which was packed with vendors, artists, and individuals selling their own games. It was a nice variety of video games, board games, random video game related stuff with attendees crowding booths to dig through bins hoping to find a gem or a missing piece of their gaming collection. Just right off the vendor hall was a gaming area that had various retro consoles hooked up that people could play as well as join a tournament or Mario Kart or Goldeneye. The star of the con however was the never released Super Nintendo CD-Rom, a joint partnership between Nintendo and Sony that never took off (after Nintendo bailed on the partnership, Sony decided to enter the console business with the Playstation).

 

Something new for this year as that Game On Expo expanded into the Marriott hotel which is practically connected to the Mesa Convention.The expansion gave them more room for even more gaming as well as a concert area. This large room featured music all weekend while hosting a variety of arcade games in the same room. What I thought was cool was various monitors were hooked up in the concert area as well as the vendor hall that had a live stream of various rooms across the con. You could check the monitor and see who was having a panel in one room, who was playing on the concert stage, and so on. I really cool idea that more cons should try.

My biggest complaint about Game On Expo is honestly no fault of theirs but I wish the vendor hall was larger but the Mesa Convention Center just doesn’t have any larger room in the facility. I have a strong feeling that Game On Expo is going to outgrow the Mesa Convention Center rather quickly. I have zero knowledge on this but I wouldn’t be surprised if next year was its last in Mesa.

I really enjoy Game On Expo because it offers guests and experiences that no other con in Arizona replicates. I have very few complaints about the con, it is really good time and I didn’t see anything that didn’t lead me to believe it was disorganized or poorly put together (and trust me, I am always looking). Did you attend Game On Expo? Let me know on Twitter what you thought!

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