The Midwest Gaming Classic is part fixed-rate arcade, part expo, part museum, and part fleamarket. For a weekend, the event sprawls through a Milwaukee hotel, occupying ballrooms, meeting rooms, and even hallways.
This was the first year I’d attended, and I pretty grossly underestimated how much I would wind up buying at the event. I came home with two plastic shopping bags crammed with, among other things, a refurbished Nintendo Game Boy (bargain!), a few dozen games intended for girls, mostly for the Nintendo DS and other Nintendo handhelds, a refurbished Nintendo DS, an incredibly beautiful Space Invaders poster, and some freebie Nintendo merchandise. I also got to spend literally hours playing new and vintage pinball games and computer and console games.
The “Museum” section of the MGC is a bit of a game scholar’s wonderland. Antique computers and consoles, Atari demonstration devices, and a number of mood setting lava lamps fill up a large ballroom. The somewhat noisier, somewhat darker pinball room was similarly stuffed to the gills with options, including rare games alongside new releases. It can be incredibly difficult to access old games outside of emulators, so having a huge room filled with these kinds of games, up and running just as smoothly as they ever did was a real treat. I hovered hoping to get some time on old school Oregon Trail, but spent more time trying out a number of games I’d heard of but never seen.
The MGC is also a family event, and I was delighted to see parents showing their favorite childhood games to their children. I heard a little boy, probably 6 or 7, insisting to his father, who had warned a game was really hard, “Yeah, but I can still do it.”
In short, MGC is a great event that has a lot to offer whether for people who have some serious interest in the history of games or who just want a fun way to while away an afternoon. Tickets run $15 to $30, and for how many games are available (almost entirely free to play), it’s a real bargain. There are also talks, tournaments, and other events for those so inclined. If you’re in the area and interested in game history, I very highly recommend checking it out next year.