A Look at SFGE, A Southeast Expo Dedicated to Gaming
Living in Atlanta, we don't have much in the way of gaming conventions. Specifically here we have Dragon Con (small video game presence), Momocon (mostly anime, kids with tails, fan fiction, etc.), and AWA (don't know, don't care). When I finally caught wind of the Southern Fried Gaming Expo I knew I had to check it out.
Now this isn't PAX, so don't expect too much. The Southern Fried Gaming Expo (or SFGE) is a small, relatively new expo that specializes in arcade games and pinball, and that's something worth noting. Something you don't see too often is an appreciation for an older generation of gaming (and no millennials, I don't mean the N64, that's not classic gaming).
When I first arrived at SFGE it was apparent that this was an expo that catered to the gamers of the 70s and 80s. Men that are roughly twice my age basking in the glory days when the coolest thing was the Intellivision. It's quite a show, especially for someone like myself who holds a deep respect for an era I am to young to have really known.
The big attraction is the game room, which features hundreds of arcade cabinets and pinball machines, most are owned by attendees that have either restored or preserved these beauties for future generations. Many machines are for sale, all are available to play. It's quite a glorious site, so much so that I took a quick video to provide an idea of what the best of SFGE has to offer (sorry for recording vertically like a dumbass).
The game room features dozens of vendor tables, most with pretty interesting merch, compared to other local expos. Vendors varied from pinball parts sellers, to homemade arcade machines. There's quite a lot too look at, and it's a great place to be if you're in the market to drop a couple grand on a machine.
The expo also offers some panels. I came on the last day so I only got to attend two, but they were intriguing. The first one in particular was hosted by five men who all collected and restored arcade games. Hearing their stories about how they've obtained the cabinets they have was inspiring because there was a true sense of passion in the way they spoke about the hobby they love.
Unfortunately, there wasn't too much else. There were some tables set up for groups of people to participate in tabletop games, as well as a handful of small rooms dedicated to console gaming. The latter was actually pretty interesting as well, as this room had tons of hard to find consoles available for play.
I mostly played pinball, because there was a ton of it and it's a blast. There was a pretty good selection of pinball machines I had never seen before, which made having the chance to play them even more special.
Also, how did I not know about this? Unfortunately, it was out of order. *sigh*
The expo was crowded, but not crowded enough to where I couldn't get my turn on a game. I'd like to see this expo get there. I'd like to see them in a bigger convention center soon. It's a neat expo that serves a unique purpose. So if the local scene could find the interest in going to a convention about anything other than naked Japanese cartoon girls, I highly recommend the Southern Fried Gaming Expo.
I'll be back there. Hopefully for the whole thing next year. These are the kinds of expos we need to grow. The southeast doesn't have a big video game expo, and it should. I implore you to come out and support these local conventions and expos, particularly the ones like this that are so unique and seek to preserve such an important piece of this industry's history, before it was all about Twitch streaming, eSports, and free-to-play.
As a side note, they give out this pretty good hot sauce with every admission, and their souvenir shirt this year is really cool.