After I had attended Midwest Gaming Classic back in November of 2021, my follow up blog post ended with a hope that the event would eventually return as a Spring event. So when the news hit in early February that the event was coming back to Spring, and as the biggest show yet, I was pretty happy. Of course life had different plans and that same weekend was both my oldest son’s Prom, and my youngest Pinewood Derby council level race. So I thought there was a good chance I wouldn’t be able to attend MGC for this show. Luckily, the Prom being a Friday, and the race a Sunday, meant I could sneak in a Saturday trip to MGC, but I had to prepare for a long, and tiring weekend to do it.
Of course the division of my time over the weekend obviously spelled out that I wasn’t going to attend all three days this year. That obviously meant no VIG weekend pass which was just fine with me. Not that I didn’t have fun doing it last year, but I was fine with just the Saturday ticket. I left my home in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago early that morning, and arrived about an hour and quarter later in Milwaukee. Thankfully there’s not a lot of traffic on Saturday mornings, so I was able to breeze right into downtown with no issues. I went directly to my hotel, and by some miracle found a parking spot on the fourth floor of their garage near the door to the elevators. Despite it being 8:30 in the morning, a quick chat with the hotel front desk got me into my room early, and with that I was ready for the day. I got over to the Wisconsin Center a little after 9, and with my pre-purchased ticket I navigated the short line quickly, got my wrist band, and was in the line for the merchant hall, which was held in the first floor ballroom for the first time ever.
Unlike in the fall, I actually did a lot of damage in my first run through the vendor hall, with two books signed by Brett Weiss (thank you Brett), a homebrew Vectrex game, the Wind Rises on LP from my friends at Ship to Shore, and a couple NES, and SNES games to boot. All this and the hour spent in the vendor hall, meant it was time to bring the haul back to my room, and get some breakfast.
After breakfast I hit the gaming hall for the first time, which was in its normal spot on the third floor. Unlike what I said on Facebook a few weeks previous, it turns out MGC didn’t actually have the whole Wisconsin Center to itself, and the normal room used as the merchant hall and the adjoining hall next to that were holding a gymnastics competition that same weekend. The gaming hall was as expected, and was laid out in the same manner it was in Fall of 21’. This time though all of the gaming museum was located on the right side of the room, and not split between the left and right as it was in the fall. The open gaming area had a pretty good selection, and the gaming auction continued but this year was mainly meant to be an in-person auction. Considering there was Baby Pac-Man I was interested in this hurt a little, as I was long gone by the time of the auction at Noon. Overall the game room was pretty good this year, but it seemed like the Fall of 21’ had a lot more of just about everything in this particular area.
Stern themselves, again had no direct presence at MGC, as that hadn’t in the Fall either. They had new machines there, this year the focus was on a machine for the rock band Rush. But there was no place to get Stern merch, and no spikey haired girl there either. I think they may have their distributors representing them at conventions now instead, and they don’t sell any Stern merch besides machine upgrade parts. I will say a few other regulars were missing as well, again some appearing in the Fall and not this Spring.
After, my visit to the gaming room I decided to explore elsewhere, stopping by Guy’s, Games, and Beers, Garcade’s, and the board gaming rooms on the second floor, and exploring some of the rooms off open on the first floor as well. Then it was off to the vendor hall again for a second look and some game hunting. After unloading more stuff in my room, I was off to see the Retronauts live podcast again. This year they focused on the Japanese gaming market, and how games popular there in the 80’s and 90’s could trace their roots back to a handful of games they evolved from. Great show as always. After that it was time for lunch, and interestingly I sat next to Rampage video game designer Brian Colin as I ate at Millers Pub. Colin, is a regular at MGC, and I seen him at VGS as well.
After lunch I took a short break in my room, but eventually headed back out, splitting my time between the game room, and vendor hall. Around 6PM, I broke off to see another panel discussion. This time Kelsey Lewin of The Video Games History Foundation was the guest speaker on the efforts of trying to preserve video games from a historical perspective. It’s actually a far harder undertaking than you’d think. Again, though another great talk.
After that I began to wind up my day there. I was going to see the cosplay contest, but a basketball contest ran over, and I decided to take another spin through the games and vendor halls. Being the end of the day both had emptied out greatly, and it was a lot easier to maneuver around both. I picked up a few more items, and returned to my room around 7:30.
So what did I think about MGC 22’?
As I said earlier it was nice to see the show back in the Spring. This was also the first show since 2018 were we didn’t get snow, and I think the two week delay with the show being at the end of April, and not mid-April helped with that.
What I think hurt the show this time around was it being only 6 months since the last one, I think this explains some of the limited vendor presence in the gaming hall. Not to mention around the time of the last show we were kind of led to believe the show would be moving to Fall permanently. Again though, I’m glad to see it back in the Spring.
In conversations with some other attendees and vendors from Fall as well, we did agree the smaller Fall show seemed more relaxed and a bit more fun, but everyone was glad to see the show back where it was in the Spring. .
Overall, I will probably make the trip again next year.
So what did I like the most?
Seeing Kelsey Lewin, Heavy Metal Jesus, Pat the NES Punk, and Norman Corusso (lurking around on Saturday were some of the highlights of the show. I love seeing the Retronauts every year, but it was fun to see a few more gaming personalities there as well this year.
Note to the show runners: Get us Hugues & Rob from Retro Game Club as guest speakers next year
The new vendor hall was also pretty nice, and they made sure they definitely bought back a few favorites from past shows.
What wasn’t I a fan of?
First of all, and this isn’t the fault of the organizers, is how crazy some of the vendors were on their prices. I’m seeing stuff I bought 5 years ago being sold for 10 times the price. The point many of the merchants were missing is people attend these shows to get better deals than they can on eBay and other places. I looked at Aerobiz on the SNES with several different vendors, and while I was at the show I literally hopped on to eBay and bought the game for half the price the vendors were asking. Don’t get me wrong, I found a number of deals, but there were a lot of vendors that priced themselves out of the market this year and went home with as much as they bought..
Also, having attended MGC at the Wisconsin Center ever since it first moved over there, the merchants had particular spots that sat in each year. I kind of wish they kept the same layout this year, as I really had to hunt to find a few favorite merchants.
Lastly, part of the new layout had suggested additional food options. Outside of a vending machine cafeteria that’s now open on the first floor, all I saw was the same old stuff.
What I’d like to see at future shows?
Bring back the wrestling we had in the Fall, that was really fun.
Again, more food options so one can eat right at MGC without having to eat elsewhere. Other than that I’m pretty happy and looking forward to what offerings future shows add.
Even though I only attended just Saturday I had a lot of fun, and some good memories of this year’s show. Let me know if you attended and what your thoughts were.