Cool things never get old. They just go retro.
Saturday, the Power Up Video Game Convention returns to the Big Sandy Superstore Arena, promising a full day of nostalgia to the generations of kids who grew up with plastic controllers clenched in their fists.
Ben Durfee, a graphic designer in Huntington, started the convention four years ago as an extension of his own passion for collecting old video games.
The 34-year-old grew up playing Nintendo’s Super Nintendo game system, the Nintendo Game Boy, and then the Sony PlayStation. He got interested in fantasy games like “Final Fantasy” and “Chrono Trigger.”
As he got older, he discovered the earlier home video game consoles like the first Nintendo, the Atari 2600 and ColecoVision.
Durfee began collecting games and game systems. He met others.
They were a community, and having a convention to gather, play together and maybe get some new games seemed like a good idea.
“I knew, locally, there was a decent crowd of people who also collected,” Durfee said. “So, I said, maybe we’ll just dip our toe in the water and see what happens.”
The first year 600 to 700 people came out to play old Nintendo and PlayStation games. They really only had a few vendors, but people loved it.
The next year, a few more came out and they had to move into a larger area. Last year, he said, they had a little over a thousand people, and this year they expect more.
The convention has expanded. There are more games to play, more vendors selling vintage video game cartridges and the game consoles to play them, as well as related merchandise and video game exhibitors.
The convention has also expanded past older video games to non-powered, kitchen-table type games.
“The Huntington Unplugged Gaming Society will be bringing games and we’re having a ‘Magic: The Gathering’ tournament,” Durfee said.
“Magic: The Gathering” is a collectable card game, similar in some ways to “Pokemon.”
“We’ll also have a VR rig,” Durfee said. “So, if you’ve never tried virtual reality, it’s pretty cool.”
He added that he was particularly proud of this year’s vendors.
“They’ll be selling everything from old school Coleco to the stuff that’s current right now,” he said.
Admission into the convention is only $5, which Durfee acknowledged was pretty cheap.
“I’d rather people just come, play and have fun and spend the rest of their money on the vendors,” he said.
Reach Bill Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org, 304-348-5195 or follow @LostHwys on Twitter. Follow Bill’s One Month At A Time progress on his blog at blogs.wvgazettemail.com/onemonth/. He’s also on Instagram at instagram.com/billiscap/