Classic Console and Arcade Gaming Show

Field Trip: Classic Console and Arcade Gaming Show

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One hot Saturday morning in June, a couple of friends and I drove two and a half hours to an American Legion near a Cleveland airport. We got lost once on our way to the Classic Console and Arcade Gaming Show. Here’s what I remember:

Fake wood paneling and photos of veterans in uniform; fifty tables of video games and related junk – I can’t tell if the place just feels yellowed from smoke or if it is. It’s crowded. Very crowded. From the wall above Pong and Stunt Cycle, rows of photos of middle-aged-to-elderly permed white women watch an NES Ninja Gaiden tournament.

A 10-year-old kid stares at a Nintendo World Championships cartridge in a display case. “WOW! If that were gold,” he says to the man behind the table, “you would be a millionaire.”

The man looks at him, completely humorless: “I’m already a millionaire.” You’d think maybe he was referring to having a job where he buys and sells video games for a living, but nope. He was just kind of a jerk.

I find it almost impossible to avoid rummaging through the containers full of Game Boy Advance cartridges. They clack against each other and there’s so much potential.

I spend the afternoon trying not to buy any number of consoles from the mid-to-late 1990s – I’ve no need for a Saturn or a Jaguar or another Dreamcast or an N64 – and snapping photos.