Over 10,000 people attended this year’s show. It was crowded, and it's always crowded. People from all over attend, even some from the east coast. The event is essentially broken up into three main parts.It is the largest convention center in Oregon at nearly 1,000,000 square feet (93,000 m2). The complex includes 255,000 square feet (23,700 m2) of exhibit space. It features the largest ballroom in the City of Portland at 35,000 square feet (3,300 m2).
1) Gigantic free-play arcade “Retrocade.”
Pick a game - any game - that you loved playing back in the day. Chances are it’ll be here ready and waiting for you, no quarters required. That includes pinball, by the way. You may have to wait your turn but you’ll get in there. I played several games of Crystal Castles this time around with that glorious oversized trackball. 2) Huge vendor area called “Exhibitor Hall.” This is where folks set up tables in an area about the size of a football field and sell their retro wares. I’ll admit that this was the first year I struck out. I have strong Commodore radar, and the only items I could locate were Vic-20s (one boxed and minty) or old, raggedy boxed games with Ebay prices. I did learn that someone snagged a broken SX-64 from one vendor right before I got there. But overall the vast majority of “Retro” is a sliding scale. And I’m sad to say our stuff is simply being overwhelmed by consoles at this point. Most of what is found on the tables now are Nintendo carts, Sega carts and even newer stuff. You can find Atari and Intellivision, of course, but in much smaller quantities. More than ever things are moving into the 90s realms like Xbox, Playstation, N64 - even Wii - and the like. Still very cool stuff to browse through, but it’s getting much harder to find the retro computing glory days items I’m after.
Previous years I’d found a boxed, NOS boxed Amiga 2000, boxed NOS breadbin and boxed NOS C64C ($200/$100/$100 respectively). None of that this year, unfortunately. The Vic-20 I’d found was mint, but I’m not into that system, personally.
At one point I was sitting on chair next to some boxed games in crates. A guy hovered over my shoulder and asked, “Old PC Gold Box games?” I replied, “Amiga!” And he sucked in his breath. “You after Commodore stuff?” and I nodded. “I feel ya, brother. Good luck with that.” We laughed as he walked on and I sorted through things. They were all either dupes or Ebay prices so I didn’t pick any up.
3) Panel/Speaker Auditoriums
This is one of the best ways to break up your day(s) during the convention. It is full of Retro Dignitaries - some from yesteryear, some current (like YouTube celebs).
Granted, some of the speakers give presentations every year. But their content always changes which is nice.
This year I got the chance to meet and listen to David Murray (8-Bit Guy) and Dimitris Giannakis, aka MVG (Modern Vintage Gamer). I also attended the always fantastic and entertaining Howard Scott Warshaw, the legendary programmer of Yar’s Revenge and E.T.
All in all, it was a superb event as usual. I did have to cut our attendance short as I had a medical emergency (I’m OK now), which sucked. But we had a good time while it lasted.
I just discovered next year’s PRGE has moved its dates now that Portland is growing as a popular destination spot, unfortunately. Instead of October, like always, they are moving the expo to mid-August, which falls right smack dab on my wife’s birthday. I don’t know if she’ll want to go to PRGE for her birthday, to be honest. Plus it’s during the summer, and we are often planning summer trips with the kids. So, the future is foggy.
But these past four years have been a total blast. The kids love it, too, which makes it even nicer.