The 2006 Oklahoma Videogame Expo (OVGE) took place Saturday, August 19th, in the Tulsa, Oklahoma Mariott Hotel. Dozens of exhibitors and hundreds of gamers showed up to support their gaming habits. I was at the show for three reasons: to meet up with old friends, to promote my new book Commodork, and to sell some of my extra games, systems and accessories. Here’s my official OVGE review/recap.
[ Friday Night – Pre-Show ]
I arrived at the Tulsa Mariott around 5:30pm. The first thing I saw was a yellow car painted just like Crazy Taxi with the Trade-N-Games logo on the back window. I was pretty sure I was in the right place. When I walked in the ballroom I ran into Icbrkr and his wife who were already busy unpacking and setting up. Icbrkr moved his car out of “illegal parking” and I moved into his spot. There is no good legal parking anywhere near the front of the hotel; you can either parallel park illegally in front of the hotel, or park in the spots marked “SPA CUSTOMERS ONLY”. People did both regularly throughout the weekend.
Friday night I wore my “Flack” baseball cap — it’s a black hat my wife bought for me with flames on the bill and FLACK written in large yellow letters across the front. It’s great for situations like this where people you’ve never met in person before are trying to find you. The cap did its job — before long 98PaceCar, Funk Buddy, and a few other people had found me and introduced themselves.
Funk Buddy, 98PaceCar, and Icbrkr.
Just as we were all getting ready to head out for a bite to eat, AltairBoy called me to let me know they had just arrived at the hotel. After waiting for them to check in, we took three cars over to Bennigans — Funk Buddy and me in one, AltairBoy, Pantechnicon, and his son Alex in a second, and Icbrkr, his wife, and 98PaceCar in a third. Icbrkr and co. actually left a few minutes early and reserved a table for the rest of us. Dinner was a blast and it was good to hang out a bit with everyone. I’m thinking we were at the restaurant for over an hour before we convoyed back to the hotel, just down the street.
L to R: Funk Buddy, Icbrkr, 98PaceCar, AltairBoy, Pantechnicon, with Pantechnicon Jr. front and center.
When we got back to the hotel, more people had shown up. Smitty and his wife (?) were there, along with Jason from Trade-N-Games. The Vintage Stock guys were setting up their large display, and Shawn from Video Game Collector Magazine was busy hanging up posters and setting up his table. Things were shaping up! By this time my wife had also arrived, and she began helping me organize my display, along with cleaning and pricing items, preparing them for sale.
I’ve been told before that the “good stuff” gets bought, sold and traded at these shows long before the doors ever open. While there was certainly tons of cool stuff still available Saturday morning, I saw a ton of merchandise swapping hands Friday night. I made over $200 in sales the night before the show! The public never saw my R.O.B. robots, boxed Atari 2600, SNES w/6 commons, piles of Atari knock-off joysticks, and other items.
Around 11pm I went to find a sheet to cover my tables up with. Upon returning I ran into YummySmokedHam, who was setting up his tables. I talked to him, Crossbow, and his friend Vickie until about half past midnight before heading up to the room and crashing.
[ Saturday – OVGE ]
Mrs. Flack (Susan) surprised me the day before the show with a pair of Commodork t-shirts she had made to help promote my book. With our matching shirts on we went down sometime between 7:30 and 8am. The show starts at 9am, but by 8am people were already lining up outside the doors. I couldn’t believe it! Most of the rest of the pre-show time is kind of a blur to me — I just have images of running cables, hooking stuff up, double checking prices, and so on. Every couple of minutes I would notice a new person had arrived. Oh, there’s Phosphor Dot Fossils! Oh, there’s AltairBoy! Oh, there’s MegaManFan! Oh, there’s SteveW! More than any other year, OVGE 2006 seemed like a Who’s Who roster from the online forums I frequent.
At 9am the doors officially opened and people began piling in. My island consisted of 6 tables — Icbrkr had three and I had the other three. His wife and my wife hung out inside the island, and some of the other forum regulars like 98PaceCar and Mr. and Mrs. MegaManFan made it their home base as well. There was no shortage of people or conversations in our area at any given time.
My front table was set up to promote my new book, Commodork. My attempt at a theme was to surround the book with Commodore items. I had an SX-64 (the “executive” portable Commodore 64) set up playing games, my GP32 sitting out running Frodo (the C64 emulator), and my laptop which was running WinVice. The table went over okay. You never know what people are going to be interested in. I had a lot of people ask questions about the SX-64; some people had heard about them but never seen one, others said they had seen one a long time ago but not one recently. The GP32 got the least amount of attention. A few people asked questions about it, but the Frodo menu system is so complicated that few people were able to get it working without assistance. The laptop running WinVice drew mixed attention. Some people asked about the emulator itself, like how accurate it was, how difficult it was to install, etc. Others focused on the hardware, commenting on the monitor or the joystick (I had my MadCatz PS2 Retrocon hooked up, along with a PS2 to USB adapter). Most of the kids didn’t care about any of that — they just wanted to play games, and play games they did. It was a blast watching Pantechnicon’s eight-year-old son Alex play Frogger II, Donkey Kong and Rampage. I kept thinking to myself, I wasn’t that much older than him when I began playing some of those same games.
In both 2004 and 2005 I had multiple systems hooked up, including one or more modern systems. I struggled with that this year — my Xbox (which is nothing fancy) usually gets more use than anything else at my tables. In 2004 I had people walk right past all my console copiers (which I would consider somewhat rare) just to get to my Xbox to play Tetris Worlds. In a way I wanted to bring a modern system just to ensure interest in the table, but on the other hand it has always seemed like it attracts a certain demographic to my table that I’m just not that interested in entertaining. In the end I just went with the Commodore stuff, and it worked out for me. My table was not as popular as it has been in years past, but every single person who stopped was into the C64 and I had some great conversations about old computers with both old and new friends.
Another worry I had about this year was that neither Digital Press nor Atari Age had official tables set up. Atari Age has been at the past three shows but didn’t come this year, and Digital Press was slated to have a presense but ended up not appearing either. I was afraid that people would be disappointed (or worse, might not even come) because of this, but this turned out not to be the case. I did have a few people ask me where both tables were and I just explained the situation to them. It actually kind of worked out — I’m always worried about tension or awkwardness between the two groups, and there was absolutely none of that there. I brought a few Digital Press items to my table (my t-shirt, my spare Advanced guide and my old Psychopedia) and ended up selling them all very quickly.
Anyway, back to games — and boy, where there games! I saw tons of boxed Odyssey II, Atari, NES and SNES games. The only negative comment I heard was that there didn’t seem to be many Dreamcast or Saturn games at the show. I put out a bunch of boxed NES, SNES and PC games for $5 each and sold a few, but I also had a bunch of $1 items including loose common Atari games, C64 disk games, and other odds and ends that sold like crazy.
Along with games for sale there were lots of games to play and lots of tournaments to choose from. Brad Prillwitz had his Pepsi/Coke tournament, Game Crazy had a Guitar Hero tournament, Max and Dustin had a Neo Geo tournament … and there were dozens of other systems sitting around for people to play on. I know Josh Risner had some Dreamcast stuff set up, Icbrkr had a couple of CD32s, a C64, his C-One and other items set up playing games … I walked around the room a few times and know I still didn’t see everything.
The back of the room had arcade games, and while I don’t think there were as many as there have been in year’s past, everything there was quality. Tank II, Star Wars, Joust, Galaga, and Frogger all got massive playtime.
Games, games, games.
One of the most unique tables this year was AltairBoy’s display of Altair computers. As I mentioned before, I’ve only seen one before in my life and it was in a museum behind bulletproof glass. Not to sound dramatic or anything, but sitting in front of that thing playing Star Trek was probably a once in a lifetime opportunity. I hope lots of people took advantage of the one chance to check it out.
One thing I have to talk about is my book, Commodork. I took 30 copies of the book with me and sold around 20 of them. Many of them sold to forum regulars that know me, but several went to strangers who just saw what the book was about and picked it up. I’ve heard back from two or three of them already (my e-mail address is listed in the book) and all the comments have been very positive! Talking to the people is always one of my favorite things to do at these shows, so it was great to meet new friends who share old interests. :)
[ Saturday Night – Post-OVGE ]
Around 4:30pm or so, traffic started winding down. Everytime I tried to start packing up early people would run over and buy whatever it was that I was trying to pack up! I sold a 1520 Commodore Printer ten minutes before the end of the show. I took six 20-gallon tubs full of stuff to sell to OVGE this year and came back with two. Not only did that put a lot of cash in my pocket, but it also meant I had a lot less crap to load back into my truck.
And by the way, let me just say this — there is nothing nicer you can possibly do in your life (well, maybe adopt an orphan or something) than helping someone pack up their crap after one of these shows. After a late night the night before and 10 hours of standing and being “on stage” (so-to-speak), I was TIRED. Funk Buddy, 98PaceCar, and several of the other guys stuck around after the show and helped several of us pack stuff up and carry stuff back out to our cars. It is a GREATLY appreciated gesture.
Near the end of the show MegaManFan mentioned something about going out and eating Chinese food at one of those Mongolian BBQ places, so around 5:30pm or so we started gathing people together for the post-show dinner. This took much more coordination and patience than one would think. It seemed like every time we got almost everyone together, someone would leave or someone else would have something they needed to do. I’m sure part of it was the fact that I was tired, hungry and cranky by that point in the day, but I was ready to EAT. I think it took close to two hours to get everyone together and ready to leave. Once the caravan did finally kick off, it was worth the wait. Crossbow ride with me, Funk Buddy drove himself, Pantechnicon, son and AltarBoy took one car and Brad Prillwitz along with Mr. and Mrs. MegaManFan took another. A great time was had by all. I had already packed my camera by this point but I know AltairBoy and Mrs. MegaManFan took some pictures that I’m sure will surface before long.
During dinner I asked Pantechnicon’s son what his favorite part of the show was. After thinking for a minute he replied, “I’d have to say it was destroying the Death Star.” Hey, that’s a highlight in any kid’s life, right?
I still had to drive back to Oklahoma City that night, so I broke up the dinner party around 9:30pm. In the five mile trip between the restaurant and the hotel, a huge rain storm came out of nowhere. Winds went from 0 to 60mph in no time. My truck was rocking back and forth in the parking lot, and I decided I would wait at the hotel for a few minutes for the rain to subside. Crossbow and I bolted from my truck to inside the hotel, where employees with walkie-talkies were running around trying to find where all the rain leaks were coming from. In the lobby we ran into Brad Prillwitz who was talking with Mr. and Mrs. MegaManFan, who invited us all up into their room to hang out for a bit. Up there, MegaManFan showed us his booty (don’t ask) and Brad graciously handed out Pac-Man-themed scratch-off lottery tickets. I think everybody won a couple of bucks on them but me, so Brad handed me another card. No cash prizes for me on that one, either. Ah well — I was never that good at Pac-Man, anyhow. The rain eventually passed and I began my 2 hour drive home right around 10:30pm. I rolled into Yukon around a quarter to one in the morning.
Me behind the Commodork table.
All the pictures I took are located here:
Thanks to everyone who came and made this the best OVGE to date. I can’t wait for next year!!!