For retro game collectors, there are few places you can go to be with like-minded people. Unless you have an awesome retro game store in your area, places like the SoCal Gaming Expo (formerly known as the SoCal Retro Gaming Expo) are essential. After a massive effort in 2019 in Pasadena, cancelations in 2020/2021, 2022 was a more subdued effort on the Expo’s part. Comparing the two isn’t fair, however. This time around the show emanated from the Ontario Convention Center in Ontario, CA. It’s a very nice convention center, but much smaller than the Pasadena Convention Center.

They made up for this by absolutely packing the room with vendors, art, a mobile museum, and tournament/free-play space. As soon as you walked in the door, front and center was the space for The Gaming Museum. The Gaming Museum is a roving exhibit that shows off some of the rarest items from gaming’s storied history. By rare, we’re not talking a mint copy of Earthbound on the SNES, think more along the lines of a Nintendo 64DD or the Sewing Machine for the Game Boy Color.

The other big-time exhibit at the Expo was The Art of Nintendo Power presented by the Interactive Art Collection. Founded in 2021, the Interactive Art Collection is a non-profit organization focused on the discovery, preservation, education, and sharing of original art and historical materials from the video game industry. The Art of Nintendo Power is their flagship exhibit. It’s a curated collection of original artwork, production materials, and historical artifacts from an archive of over 350 original pieces from Nintendo Power Magazine. This time around, it contained pristine cover art, pages, and other relics including original models used for the artwork on the cover of Nintendo Power.

The Guests Of Honor And A Special Screening

It doesn’t get more retro gaming than the Game Chasers. The YouTube channel turned filmmakers showed off their new movie, Adventures in Game Chasing at the Expo on Saturday. Other guests included Colleen O’Shaughnessey (the voice of Tails from Sonic the Hedgehog), Laura Faye Smith (Princess Rosalina from Super Mario Brothers), Kellen Goff (Five Nights At Freddy’s, My Hero Academia), Jirard “The Completionist” Khalil, Kevin Kenson, Pat The NES Punk, Ian Ferguson, Alex Faciane, John Riggs, Retro Rick, 8-Bit Eric, and many other guests that had booths.

What About The Games?

For anyone in the mood for games from the Atari 2600 and Vectrex all the way up to PS5 and Xbox Series X, it was a grand scene at the SoCal Gaming Expo. Bargain bins, Sega Saturn games in the thousands of dollars, rare copies of PlayStation 2 survival horror games, and plenty else highlighted the various booths. It was wall-to-wall games, consoles, boxes, figures, toys, posters, art, and any other gaming-related item you could think of.

My only complaint was a lack of Nintendo DS games at the event. As an ardent Nintendo handheld collector, it was a lot of the popular games like Pokemon and Nintendo first-party titles, but the stuff below the popular surface was notably absent. Outside of that, if you’re a collector of any specialty in gaming, they’re going to likely have it.

For a retro game collector, the SoCal Gaming Expo was an absolute dream. If you’re in the Southern California area next year around this time, you don’t want to miss it. Here’s hoping it’s even bigger and better next year.

Learn more about the event and next year’s event at the SoCal Gaming Expo website!

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