Arcade Expo 2.0/Arcade Expo 2016
For many of you out there, the first major gaming event of 2016 has yet to happen. Most major developers are still on some form of a break for the holiday season and the dust and wreckage from the 2015 holiday season is still settling. However, we at Something Wicked Studios are not like most of you, and what we feel is one of the first major gaming events of 2016 has already come and gone. I do not think it made national news and you definitely will not be reading about it on Kotaku or Polygon, but for us, the Arcade Expo in Banning California acts as a sort of gaming New Years that despite the drive from our main office in Los Angeles to the Museum of Pinball being a bit of a hike and then some, we gladly do it since while the expo may be small, it is important to gaming as a whole.
A little backstory first: The Arcade Expo is now officially two years old and is located in truly the middle of nowhere. It is somewhere between a just staggeringly impressive collection of vintage and new video game cabinets and pinball tables and a museum that anyone who grew up attending an arcade to get their game on dreams about existing. Every machine is in free to play mode, and while you may have to wait in line for the extremely popular pinball tables, there are so many options to choose from that if you are willing to try something new you might never have to wait in line to play. If by now you are picturing that scene from the end of Raiders Of The Lost Ark but with arcade equipment instead of wooden crates, clean floors, food, and ample lighting then you are on the right track. Last year at the inaugural event the Arcade Expo broke the world record for most people playing pinball in one location at once, which if you are curious is 331 people (I was one of them). If you are curious what the 2015 event was like, check out our video below.
After leaving the 2015 Arcade Expo last year, I was curious where exactly they were going to go when time rolled around for Arcade Expo 2016/Arcade Expo 2.0. Sure they could jam a few more pinball machines in and break the world record two years in a row, but I feel like that would have cheapened the accomplishment of the inaugural year, and while breaking a world record is cool, I wanted something new for the next occurrence. Rather than going for a big event this year, the Arcade Expo chose to double down on it’s strengths. While the pinball room was so full of machines they were all but stacked on each other, the arcade room the previous year had felt a little empty and spare. They fixed that issue and then some this year and added around sixty new machines and tables across the two rooms. On top of the addition of new games, they also re-arranged the setup some and added a “new table” demo area where you could check out some of the upcoming/soon to be released pinball tables, which I found awesome since the cynical part of my brain had long ago assumed that they had stopped making new pinball tables all together. In addition to all this, they also added the Walter Day Trading Card Museum to the facility which showcases the various cards from the Video Game Trading Card collection. On top of all this the Expo also boast musical entertainment, alcohol, and the chance to buy replacement or repair components for that almost functional arcade cabinet or pinball table you have in your garage. There were also a few fandom artist booths scattered about as well as a few gaming related charities such as Extra-Life and Project Pinball.
While these changes or improvements may seem small, Arcade Expo 2.0 definitely felt like a refined and improved version of it’s previous self, which is a good thing since all signs point towards and the organizers confirmed that there is going to be an Arcade Expo 3.0/Arcade Expo 2017. You can check out our new video for Arcade Expo 2.0 below or on our channel and you can check out Arcade Expo right here.