I have always been a “gamer” as long as I can remember. My mom was a gamer, and definitely played our Nintendo, and was most commonly found either tinkering with our computers or strategizing Myst or Tomb Raider or Doom on the computer.
I grew up with my mom playing video games, so naturally I played myself. I spent many hours glued to the Magnavox wood finished tv staring at the screen watching Bub and Bob collect items in Bubble Bobble, or watching Kirby eat his enemies and take on their abilities. I played Punch Out, Mario, Tiny Toons, Ninja Turtles, The Little Mermaid on Nintendo, and adapted with all the new consoles from Gameboy Colors to Sega to PlayStation. My favorite game series has to be Final Fantasy, primarily FF7 and FF10. I also enjoyed titles like Tomb Raider, Legend of Legaia, Legend of Dragoon, and Kingdom Hearts. Growing up I didn’t know many other girls who played video games, and my friend count was already pretty limited, so I would come home from school and play by myself from the time I got home until dinner. When I started talking to boys, I always wanted to talk about video games, and when dating; my crushes HAD to appreciate the finer points of pixelated worlds. I could deal if they didn’t like anime, but they HAD to like gaming. All my boyfriends with the exception of 1, were gamers and geeks like me. My husband stated my love of video games was one of the things he found intriguing about me. He definitely has me beat though, he’s more into video games than me, but his interests are less PS4 and more classic NES.
Last year when Replay FX came to Pittsburgh, we weren’t able to make it, so when they announced they were coming this year, I knew we HAD to go. I heard it was a gaming festival with tons of games and consoles and entertainment. Jeff and I decided we would go.
Much like Ralphie states about the leg lamp in A Christmas Story, the soft glow of electric sex awaited us as we walked through the same doors I had been in just weeks earlier for Supernatural Convention. The buzzing sound of pinball machines and coin-op machines, and rows and rows and rows of old tvs hooked up to classic NES’s, Playstations, Segas, Super Nintendo’s…. it was heaven. I got to play coin ops like Pac Man and Pac Woman, and Galaga, and chilled for a good while playing Crash Bandicoot for PlayStation. I watched Jeff play the arcade version of Ninja Turtles as well as The Simpsons. All you can play, all day for $30. There was so much to play it was overwhelming.
Outside the arcade room, there were tables set up and many shelves of board games that were also free to play. They even had a 80’s living room set up, fully equipped with the 80’s couch, tv and even complete with tv guides from the era.
The vendor hall of this convention was pretty diverse, and I happened to run into the most shocking part of the convention – Philo Barnhart. Philo Barnhart is an animator, and worked for Don Bluth on a project in 1983. That project was Dragon’s Lair, an arcade game that still by today’s standards has a small cult following. He also worked as an animator for Disney from 1983-1991 on some of the most iconic Disney films. He was a character designer and key animator for Ariel, on the Little Mermaid; my favorite movie of ALL TIME. Meeting the character designer of my favorite animated character of all time at a video game convention was definitely a surprise, but really exciting. I bought 3 prints off of him, as he still draws the characters he’s known for. He also worked on Touchstone’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit, another of my all time favorites. I purchased a print of Jessica and Roger Rabbit, and 2 Ariel prints and had him sign them. I’m still hunting frames for them, but they are now some of my most prized possessions.
That night they had some concerts, one in particular which Jeff was pretty stoked about. We caught the middle of TriForce Quartet, a 4 string quartet that played video game scores. You never truly appreciate the scores from theses games unless you can hear it live. Hearing the Mario medley live on violin and cello was amazing, but that wasn’t what Jeff was so excited about. The headliner for us was at 9:00, and was a band called Bit Brigade, who tours and plays conventions. Their 9:00 show was performing the score from MegaMan 2; Jeff’s all time favorite game. He is a HUGE fan of the MegaMan series, about as big a fan as I am of the Little Mermaid. Bit Brigade’s performance was something out of perfect nerdom: While they played guitar, bass, drums- one man played the classic Nintendo game on classic NES, and as he played, the music was played LIVE. The Nintendo player played the game all the way through, no errors, and the music was perfect. Jeff LOVED IT.
This was probably one of the coolest conventions I’ve been to, because it’s my kind of convention. I enjoy MLP, and general Comic Con’s, but I am truly a gamer at heart, and to just play games all day long with my game loving husband was a perfect day to me.