Southern Fried Gameroom Expo (SFGE) 2017 was last weekend in Atlanta. SFGE is a special show, made large by a tremendous group of people who are organizing it. When I look at SFGE in comparison to other arcade & pinball events that I've been to, I see SFGE as a 'self-made' sort of success. For instance, Pinball Expo takes place in essentially the cradle of coin op amusements & Free Play Florida happens in conjunction with IAAPA, an industry trade show.
Not to diminish those shows one bit, they are awesome as well. However, it is a treat to see an Oasis of gaming culture thriving in the Southeast, in a region without the rich amusement history & vendor presence.
I like that this show represents a variety of gaming: arcade, pinball, console gaming, indie games & more.
Thursday night, through Friday morning - volunteer bring games through a service elevator and they get set up in the space. In a span of hours, a-mostly empty ball-room is converted into an impressive and thriving functional free-play arcade.
Saturday is definitely the busiest day of the weekend with a steady stream of folks coming in all day long.
I was excited to get to play Scott Danesi's Total (Nuclear) Annihilation pin that Spooky Pinball will be producing.
So, how much fun can it be playing pinball on a prototype whitewood game? Lots, actually! The game has clever rules, a bad ass sound track and nicely thematic animations on the ColorDMD. It features a nice multiplayer dynamic that was conducive to 4-Up playing. Here, Charlie & I had to find some way to pass the time while Eric mercilessly stole our locked balls.
All weekend, I never saw the glass off of TNA. It performed like a champ, chewing up and spitting out player after player. One time, I saw Scott showing the internals and had to snap the picture out of appreciation for a job well done and innovation.
It was great to get to spend some time on Dialed In. Despite the luke-warm reception concerning the game's theme - this is a special game, for sure. Tons of magnets, excellent flow and plenty to shoot at. With headphones in, I got a chance to hear the games audio and it was impressive indeed! JJP & Pat Lawlor have a hit on their hands with this game.
American Pinball's Houdini was on the floor and available to play. It was an impressive shooting game with excellent theming and a very "Williams" feel to it.
Ice Cold Beer
I was pretty stoked to get to spend some time on Ice Cold Beer, which is a game I wouldn't mind owning eventually, unique & fun!
Quick N Crash
Speaking of unique games, Quick & Crash was a super fun shooting-alley game with practical effects. The game dynamic is centered around a quick-draw motion and the game uses a Pepper's Ghost illusion to approximate a realistic effect of breaking glass. Super. Freaking. Cool.
One of the Metallica's in the show won a show-award, though the specific Metallica pictured here, while Nathan stomped my butt - was the nicest Metallica I've ever seen. Excellent lighting and custom plating from PinballPlating.com
Marco Specialities had a strong showing with many of the latest Stern machines on the floor to play.
This year's show had John from John's Arcade, Ben Heck, Billy Mitchell, Walter Day, Dirty Donny, the guys from Broken Token & many more.
The Sky Skipper world reveal! Arcade history in the making..
Morning, Noon & Night
My morning ritual developed around expresso, plus a latte and a few games on a Tapper Cocktail table near the show floor entrance.
In case you were wondering, The CheeseCake Factory does indeed make a proper Old Fashioned, including the flamed orange twist.
The show seemed to strike a solid balance between being a family event during the day and early evening but having grown-up time in the later evening as well. Everyone was well behaved & respectful, though it appears that Pac-man might have gone a little too far one night.
The Tear Down
Here our pile of games sat as we prepared to stage at the freight elevator. Cody's Paragon; Charlie's Street Fighter II, Genesis & NBA Fast Break; Nathan's Strikres and Spares & Blackout, my Tales of the Arabian Nights.
It is incredible (and a little sad) to see the convention area go from a thriving arcade to a mostly-empty room in just over 2 hours but it is a testament to the well-oiled machine that is this show's volunteer team.
While I've been to these shows in the past, I've always held a pretty stand-offish opinion regarding bringing my games to shows. I guess, mostly it was the lazy devil on my shoulder, convincing the hyper-angel on my other shoulder that the games might get damaged by careless strangers and the trouble of traveling with a game isn't worth the effort.
The mental calculus of that proposition that I didn't take into account was the family of enthusiasts that put on this show, the overwhelmingly positive experience & support of the show organizers and the desire to contribute to help the show be all that it can be, for the sake of spreading love for this hobby. After this trip, my mind was changed. I considered SFGE, even though it is 5 miles away, to be my "home" show and I look forward to bringing more blinky-light furniture again next year for visitors to enjoy.