Reconnecting with lost gaming loves

Expo March 17 in New Westminster goes back in time with Super Nintendo and Game Boy

Brian Hughes plays a Nintendo 3DS at his vintage video game shop in New West.

Brian Hughes plays a Nintendo 3DS at his vintage video game shop in New West.

Maple Ridge’s Brian Hughes remembers his first love. In fact, he had two.

“For me, it was the Super Nintendo and the Game Boy,” says Hughes. “I still remember how excited I was Christmas morning when I got Super Mario World and Zelda: Link to the Past.”

That nostalgia is shared by many who grew up gaming, on consoles ranging from the Atari to the Nintendo 64.

Hughes hopes to recapture some of that nostalgia with the first ever Vancouver Retro Gaming Expo, set for March 17 at the Columbia Theatre in New Westminster.

Hughes is the owner of Gamedeals Video Games in New Westminster, and is organizing the event, which promises to be a love-in for old school gamers.

“Most of it is just reliving your childhood,” he says. “For a lot of people, they put the video games away as they grow older, and go off to university. But as adults with money, they’re looking to get back that experience they had as kids.”

Hughes carries thousands of vintage titles at his store.

“Right now the most popular stuff is the Super Nintendo and the Nintendo 64, because that’s the generation that’s at that age where they’re trying to rediscover the games they grew up with,” he says. “They’re trying to relive their childhood.”

The Vancouver Retro Gaming Expo will feature consoles dating right back to some of the very first video game systems of the ’70s and ’80s, such as Intellivision, ColecoVision, and Atari.

The event will feature discussion panels with video game developers, a dealers area, DJs, special guests, as well as video game tournaments for Street Fighter 2 and Goldeneye, and nerd-themed burlesque dancers for the show’s adults-only finale.

Hughes said he was inspired to launch the event after visiting the annual Portland Retro Gaming Festival, now heading into its seventh edition.

“There’s always been a subculture that has preferred the old stuff,” he says. “But these days it seems more socially acceptable to be into gaming.”

That legitimacy is due to successive generations having grown up with video games, says Hughes. Whereas yesterday’s parents may have seen video games as a waste of time, today’s parents are introducing their children to the gaming consoles they themselves grew up with.

“These games are getting a second life.”