This past weekend was the 14th annual Portland Retro Gaming Expo. What is the PRGE? It’s a classic gaming convention that takes place at the Oregon Convention Center, a colosseum-esque building near Portland’s eclectic downtown district.
For gaming fans (and particularly retro gamers), it doesn’t get much better than this. The entire expo is centered around the most popular consoles and titles spanning the past 50 years, all the way up to the 7th generation of systems. There are endless activities, exhibition halls, and even a full-fledged retro arcade for players of every age to experience and enjoy.
In fact, there’s over one-hundred thousand square feet filled to the brim with gaming goodness. And with tens of thousands of attendees gathering to experience the camaraderie and excitement, it gets right to the heart of what makes gaming so special in the first place.
A Real Showstopper
The Retro Gaming Expo is home to various activities and tournaments, ranging from Q&As with popular gaming icons to the Classic Tetris World Championship.
You read that right – a classic Tetris tournament! The CTWC brings together retro gamers from across the globe to compete in an eSports spectacle. This was year 7 of the critically-acclaimed event, and it was broadcast on ESPN as well as streamed to thousands of viewers online.
The giant projector in the center of the auditorium showcased every grimace, gasp, and brave smile, as the competitors raced against ever-quickening tetromino blocks. After hours of painstaking matchups and close calls, the dust finally settled.
This year’s winner? None other than Joseph Saelee, the two-time reigning champion. A huge congratulations from the team here at HGG.
Other notable events included a Smash Bros. Melee tournament, a panel from the Angry Video Game Nerd, and the PRGE Annual Cosplay Contest.
This year also marked the 30th anniversary of both the Nintendo Game Boy and Sega Genesis. To celebrate these game-changing consoles, the Video Game History Foundation set up a mini-museum featuring the entire library of titles from both devices, as well as other impressive exhibits.
Unfortunately for collectors, the museum was all for show. However – there were hundreds of other vendors who set up shop deep within the halls of the Convention Center. Their wares ranged from classic consoles and gaming cartridges to original artwork and retro-inspired crafts.
Naturally, the aisles were jam-packed with retro gaming fans seeking the best deals. It was a sea of people, as everyone bustled about in search of that elusive title or gaming-inspired focal point.
As for me? I was a kid in a candy store, weaving between booths, and keeping my eyes peeled for new artwork to hang in my room. I settled on a square-shaped poster of Pokemon Yellow, one of the first-ever games I picked up as a child.
PRGE features thousands of square feet dedicated to playing classic games at the convention. Step through the arching doorway, and you’re greeted by rows upon rows of classic consoles hooked up to vintage CRT TVs. You’ll spot systems ranging from the classic Atari and NES all the way to the GameCube and PS2.
Kids and adults, in tandem, were taking turns on the single-player setups and battling it out in multiplayer games. Around every corner, there was another legion of gamers competing in a 4-way Mario Kart 64 extravaganza or pulling out the stops in a 1v1 battle of Joust. Combined with the dim glow of LEDs and blue light, it was truly dazzling.
And just when I thought I’d seen it all, I stumbled across another area filled with arcade machines. Hundreds of them! And they were all set to free play. It was Pinball and Pac-Man galore, and the nostalgic energy in the air was palpable.
The PRGE is more than just another expo or convention. The show started as a small group of gaming fans meeting up at a local hotel. And though it’s grown to epic proportions, it stays true to the idea of gaming as a shared experience. By the same token, the entire show is a 501(c)4 non-profit cooperative organization designed to bring like-minded gaming enthusiasts together.
If you’re a classic gamer, or simply someone looking for an authentic and like-minded community, be sure to mark your calendars for next year. The Portland Retro Gaming Expo is scheduled to return on August 14-16, 2020.
The team at HGG hopes to see you there!