Monday, July 9, 2012

TooMany Games Convention Review

Author: Evan Butler

First off I wanna warn everybody that traffic on I-95 anywhere on the East Coast is awful. It will eat up your time and after that it will eat your patience. Getting to the Too Many Games Convention, located in Phoenixville, PA, was one of the most emotionally taxing and physically draining experiences in my life. Partially because my girlfriend was driving and all she did was complain about the traffic and make horrible navigational decisions. Also, partially because there is no preparing for a 4 hour drive that suddenly turns into an 8 hour trail of tears directed mainly by America’s undisciplined drivers.

A few months prior, I had applied for press passes to cover the con, and also requested a room reservation so that I could give a panel presentation on buying, selling, and collecting video games. The convention owners were rather prompt and courteous in responding to my panel request, except for they said that a projector would most likely not be supplied to me.

Hearing back about the press passes was another debacle. I wasn’t sure whether or not I had to buy my own pass, but eventually I did hear back from them and they confirmed that two press passes had been granted so I could bring a friend to help. This was going to be the first time I had truly covered an event as “media” and I was absolutely giddy!

It took 8 hours but I eventually reached the convention hall on Friday, June 15th and I was excited as I walked in through the doors of the Greater Philadelphia Convention Center. I proudly walked up to the check-in desk with a stupid grin on my face and my faithful cameraman in tow. I think the excitement of the moment got the better of me when she asked me what my name was and all I could respond with was “I am Media.” After a few seconds of blank stares from the receptionist, I followed up with, “I’m Evan Butler, and I’m here representing to cover the even as media.” She looked at her list, checked my name off, and handed me my media pass. Then, with our newfound media privileges, we walked into the convention center and started taking pictures of everything, not excluding ourselves.

I have to commend the vendors at this year’s convention because the selection, variety, and prices of their wares were the best I’ve ever seen. I saw things at this convention that I’ve never seen anywhere else, even on the internet. They had the rarest, most eclectic pieces of video game history for sale at affordable prices. I was in heaven.

Since we got there so late the first day, I didn’t really have much time to look around and see what the other booths held, so me and my group trundled back to our car and headed to our hotel for the night. We woke up the next day, bright eyed and bushy tailed, and ready for con adventures, but we were sidetracked - Bob Evans and delicious breakfast. We eventually headed over to the convention center to check out what the day had in store.

The first order of business was setting up my panel. I had been exchanging emails with the people who ran the convention and I had gotten myself a time slot, and everything seemed set. I headed to the exhibition room where my panel was to be held to hopefully set up and see if anyone was waiting. To my great surprise the panel before me was running long and I had to sit out in the hall for about 30 minutes. But eventually they cleared out and by that time there was a large group of people gathering to see my panel. It was amazing. I gave a presentation on buying, selling, and collecting video games. I titled it “Bargain Bin Business,” which is ironic because most of the video game trade is rather expensive and is conducted online. But I had a great time and my audience was thoroughly amused with what I had to say. During my presentation I gave everyone a crash course in game collecting and a huge shout out to and how useful they are when trying to find the best deals around.

After my panel finished, I had some free time until the next panel I wanted to see so I walked around the expo floor and got a closer look at what Too Many Games was all about. I have to say, at Too Many Games there really are too many games. They had Stadium Events. They had Nintendo World Championship grey cartridges. They had N64 DD’s. They had things I’d never even heard of. It was awesome.

But not all the booths there were just vendors. A lot of them were artists and independent game developers showing off their latest creations and trying to publicize them, while also looking for feedback on where to go with their games. I talked to a lot of them, exchanged emails, phone numbers, and business cards.

Cute Girl at Too Many Games

Nintendo World Championship at TooMany Games
I eventually got around to the second panel I was going to see that day, which was the Angry Video Game Nerd panel. It was really interesting to learn about what James Rolfe has gone through and what he has done to produce his show. But what I found most interesting was the stark contrast between his personality and the character he portrays on the AVGN series. He’s rather quiet and reserved. Rather shy for someone with so much fandom. After that panel, me and my crew went out to get some food and see the surrounding area. After some Chinese food we came back to the convention center for the after party.

The after party was an exclusive event that only those who had either paid extra for VIP passes, or had press passes could attend. Thanks to my press pass, I was able to attend. I got to jam out with Brental Floss, the Underbelly Crew, and Cinemassacre’s Stephanie Yuhas. We had a great time.
TooMany Games Convention

Sunday was the last day of the convention and by then the adrenaline and excitement had worn down. I had seen most everything that was to be seen and talked to most everyone I could talk to. I bought a few games, that I found for really good deals, but ultimately decided to call it quits after the Angry Video Game Nerd let me take his picture while I was holding him in my arms.

Angry Video Game Nerd Held Aloft

All in all, Too Many Games convention  is a great experience. The smaller conventions are great for meeting people, making friends, and exchanging stories. I really learned a lot about video games and gaming culture. I highly encourage anyone in the northern half of the east coast attend next year’s convention. You won’t regret it and keep an eye out for me and make sure to say "hi", and maybe we can talk a little bit about buying, selling, and collecting video games.


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