CGE, also know as the Classic Gaming Expo was held on July 29th, and July 30th 2000 at the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas.
On July 28th, Ron Corcoran and his family drove in their car, while Jason and I went in my Car. We left Friday at around 11am in order to make it to Vegas in time for the Atari Alumni Banquette. The trip was going quite smoothly and we were making great time up until about 20 miles outside of Kingman. As we left Kingman, we noticed a black cloud over the horizon.
At approximately 20 miles from Kingman we found the source of the black cloud. Apparently a Tanker Truck full of gasoline went down the wrong side of the freeway, then probably swerved to miss on-coming traffic, flipped over and exploded. It was not a pretty site and the driver did not survive the accident.
We wound up turning around in the median and going back through laughland and then on to Vegas. This detour cost us probably and additional hour of travel time. The good news is we made it there in plenty of time for Ron to receive his award for contributing to the Classic Gaming Community. Way to go Ron! If you haven't visited Ron's site, please do so, its an excellent site and you wont be disappointed!
While Ron was busy being awarded the title of "Mr Atari" (Which he truly does deserve!), I met up with Paul Sommers, who some of you might know as MacMan from RGVAC. Paul is from Australia and it was a pleasure to meet him. I think we will be friends for a long time, and I hope to see him next year at CGE2001. It was fun learning about the difference between the U.S. and Australia.
After the banquette, Paul and myself met up with Ron and his family. From there, we got to meet Walter Day who is the driving force behind Twin Galaxies. Walter is a great guy and does a great service for Video Games. If you haven't been to the Twin Galaxies site, you're missing out! The easy answer of what Twin Galaxies does is that it keeps track of ALL the high scores for anything and everything video gamming related. Want to know who has the high score on Donkey Kong? Visit their web site. (Walter and Patricia pictured above)
Next we were introduced to Billy Mitchell, Steve Krogman, Dwayne Richard, Maria Estrada, and Patrica (Sorry, don't remember her last name). A fantastic group of people and I'm glad I met them all. I hope to meet with them next year as well, who knows maybe sooner if they have any events close enough for me to visit. (Billy Pictured Above)
We hung out for awhile, went to the Arcade in the Plaza hotel, which was not that great. The games needed major work, but we still played them :-). Then at around 1am, we called it a night and went to bed.
Opening Day. We all met up for breakfast, then went and setup for the show. I was helping Ron run the DECA for Saturday. Ron was running the Atari portion and I was running the Colecovision portion. We arrived early and set everything up, we then went around and snapped a lot of pictures of the Standups that lined the two walls. We then proceeded to hit a couple of booths looking for the 2600 carts we both wanted. All in all, we left with about 130 carts by the end of the show. Several new in the box.
Once the DECA started up, there was no time to go from booth to booth, so Ron's wife and daughter were kind enough to run around and find cool stuff for us to buy :-). We were like kids in a candy store! By the end of the weekend I had picked up a Lynx, and Jaguar and enough other stuff to fill the trunk of my car (Well, ok, not the whole trunk, but enough!)
A considerable number of people played in the DECA, which required you to play 10 games to qualify. Five Atari Games, and Five Colecovision games. Unfortunately, not everyone got to play as we ran out of time, but those who did get to play had a great time doing so.
It was a long, fun day. After everything closed down, a group of us (Ron, Rhonda, Heather, Paul, Billy, Steve, Dwayne, Patrica, Maria, Jason, Walter, myself and one other person who I can't remember his name, which if you haven't noticed, I'm not very good with ) went to dinner. Another interesting note is that Billy has his own line of Hot Sauce called "Ricky's Louisiana Hot Sauce" which is highly recommended. If you want some, you might be able to get a hold of Billy through Twin Galaxies.
After dinner we decided to hit Freemont Street since its right across the street from the Plaza. Let me tell you, Fremont Street is one cool place! The light show is simply amazing! Ok, I'm a Geek! I like computer generated stuff! Anyway, it was very entertaining!
We took lots of pictures, plus a couple group photos, and then we decided to split up. Maria had some money burning a hole in her pocket that she wanted to get rid of, Ron had to update his database and figure out who won the DECA while Steve, Dwayne, Paul and myself decided to head to GameWorks by the MGM.
Rhonda was taking picutures like crazy! As you can see she had plenty of cameras to take pictures with :-). Actually, everyone gave their cameras to her so she could take a group photo for them.
GameWorks in Vegas is a little bit bigger than the one here in Phoenix, but has pretty much the same games. Unfortunately, GameWorks insists on butchering the classics by sticking them in stupid sit down, plain cabinets. A lot of the games also had crappy controls. That didn't stop Dwayne from getting 1.3 million on Robotron though!
I had to settle with 200K on Robotron. We played a little bit of Gorf, Missle Command, Space Invaders, etc... While Steve and John Rhodes (who met us there, he lives in Vegas) were teaching Gorf who the boss was, Paul and myself wandered off to play some of the newer games.
There are some cool new games, but they are still no comparison to the games of the golden age. Maybe I'm just biased :-).
Around 1am, we had enough and it was back to the Plaza and back to sleep!
Day two of the event was the day Ron and I got to play since we were not running anything that day. We went around buying things we missed the first day and playing the stand ups.
I got a chance to see Billy play Ms. PacMan and that was simply amazing, the two games I saw him play were over 370,000 each. He might have done better if that reporter hadn't been interviewing him while he was playing. Talk about rude!
We went around and started playing the games (There was a competition for high score after all!). One of the games that I had hated as a kid was Reactor, however, after watching someone who actually knew how to play the game, I have a new found respect for the game and think its quite fun to play. I do NOT think its worth $1,000 - $2,000 though! No game is worth that IMHO (unless you're buying it from me ).
Zoo Keeper was another game that I got a kick out of playing. I had never seen one before, and I was hooked. I hit over 100,000 on Sunday and was content with that.
The real competition was between Steve Krogman and Heather Corcoran (Ron's Daughter) on Arabian. They were both battling for first until someone else came a long and beat them both. I think Heather set a new record for herself as well. Given time, I'd bet she will beat Steve .
At the end of the day (around 3 or 4pm) Walter presented everyone with their awards and had one large group photo with anyone who could fit in the picture! Congratulations to all the winners on an job well done! (The Winners Pictured Above)
After everything wound down, we said our goodbyes and I squeezed as much info out of Billy on Donkey Kong as I could before we left. If you are not aware of it Billy also holds the World Record for Donkey Kong.
Ken Sweet, Paul, Myself, Steve
Ron, Heather, Billy
We loaded up the cars, and headed back to Phoenix.
I would like to thank Walter and everyone who works for Twin Galaxies for putting on a tremendous show! I had a great time and plan on being there next year! I would also like to thank John Hardie, Sean Kelly, and Joe Santulli for organizing a great show. These individuals are the ones responsible for this years show. I also found out that John and Keita Iida founded the CGE shows two years ago, to which everyone should thank as well!
One of the coolest things I got from CGE was this bumper stick autographed by Billy. Thanks Billy!
Everyone I met was extremely nice. I finally got to meet several people such as Evil Exidy, Jkinder, and several others from the IRC chat channel #RGVAC. I also met the people from Blast from the Past Amusements who do fantastic work on restoring games.
I've probably left out some details, and may have omitted some names, for that I apologize, but if you want to have this much fun, you're going to have to attend CGE yourself!
See you all next year!