For retro game fans nothing gets the nostalgia juices bubbling more than a good old fashioned gaming fair. Last Saturday saw the second instalment of the Joystick Gamer Club Retro Games Fair held at the Castle Green Centre in Dagenham. The event brought together the local gaming community to enjoy a day of playing vintage games, browsing the many stalls and socialising with fellow enthusiasts.
The fair took place in the centre’s large sports hall and ran throughout the afternoon. To encourage younger gamers and families to attend the event was free to under-14s accompanied by an adult. James Jarvis, of ItsMuchMore, who helped set up the event said: “All ages can see games that we grew up with and they are still enjoyable today. Basically everyone seems to be having fun.”
It was not just families that attended but groups of friends, some of who were not gamers, popped along. The range of ages and groups of people was encouraging. The scene is so much more than the typical middle-age bloke looking to finish his collection. Seeing young children enjoy playing Sonic shows how much retro games are just as good today as they have always been.
We need more markets
Each stall offered something different with many selling items ranging from games and consoles right through to hobby-craft merchandise. Stallholder Kevin Davis said: “Finding a market so local to us is great, it is only an hour away. I am used to selling in places like Doncaster. We need more markets, more regularly. I hope to see more in the future.”
Vian Siu said: “These are the things that keep the games alive. I made a lot of purchases. I want to see more markets, I go to them almost every time I have money available.
“You get to hear the story about the game, face to face interaction is very important. On eBay you are not always sure what you are getting. The story of the game is almost as important as the game itself”
This was a common theme from many of the attendees. They wanted more local markets to compliment the larger, national shows. If this is the appetite then the retro game scene should be proud of how healthy it currently is.
High score heaven
Two of the stalls had retro game consoles set up alongside old CRT televisions so attendees could play some games. These stalls set challenges to finish a level of a game with the best time or achieve a high score. The challenge gaining the most interest was the GoldenEye speed run. There was a constant queue of eager gamers competing for the best time on the Nintendo 64 James Bond classic.
Other competitions included a Daytona fastest lap and PacMan high score challenge. There was some great skills on display with the lead switching hands regularly as the day unfolded. This retro game fair certainly was competitive.
There were several stalls selling non-game related merchandise and Nick, the owner of DandyIsland.com, said: “We have a wide range of collectible figures, statues, movie memorabilia, Disney, Marvel and DC.
“We do different products, Monopoly, Game of Thrones games. Always trying to do products for what is going on currently.”
Nick also explained how important it was to meet customers face to face: “It’s a more enjoyable experience talking to the customers. Because we are very knowledgeable in our products we are able to help them further if they have any questions about the items.”
The atmosphere of the event was one of community. The fair was less about buying and selling games or having a go on an old console. It was people, with like minded interests, socialising and expressing their passion for the hobby. Bigger events try to create this experience too but there was something special created here. All the attendees we spoke to felt the same that smaller events can seem more friendly and you have more chance to socialise.
Marc Gregory, of MGRetroGaming, said: “I find it good to see what the customer’s interests are, the nostalgia. It is good talking to them. These events keep the scene alive and bring everyone together.”
Devante Wilson-August, who was attending, said: “It is great talking with people, seeing their enthusiasm and how games have touched their heart, hearing their perspectives and passion for the community.
“It helps preserve gaming history and showcases how many people really see it as more than a hobby”
Retro Faith would like to thank the organisers, stallholders and attendees for taking the time to give their thoughts.