Southern-Fried Gameroom Expo Recap

southern fried gameroom expo
Disclaimer: We were provided free passes courtesy of SFGE. All opinions expressed are 100% our own. 

Celeste and I try to hit up as many conventions as we can in and around the Atlanta area.  This past Saturday, we got the opportunity to check out the Southern-Fried Gameroom Expo, held at the lovely Renaissance-Waverly Hotel (the home of Anime Weekend Atlanta) from June 10-12.  The SFGE is a little different from the usual conventions we’ve hit up in the past in that it is, first and foremost, a gaming convention.  I’m not the world’s most hardcore gamer, especially since tabletop RPGs have sort of elbowed them out of my heart to make room for themselves, but I still look back fondly on my days as a dedicated player.

southern fried gameroom expo

Hundreds of arcade games were on display and free to play when we visited SFGE. The main show floor felt very reminiscent of the mysterious, dimly-lit arcades of my youth.  Back then, before the spread of the internet and the rise of the nerd community, arcade halls like that were a sort of mecca for gamers and geeks of all shapes and sizes, so the feelings of nostalgia are very strong with me.  In this age where arcades have almost completely disappeared from the collective consciousness, it was nice to reconnect with those feelings, even if it was only for a little while. 

Pinball had a very strong representation at SFGE- I would wager that more than half of the machines we saw were pinball, with only a few repeats of the same model. There were quite a few Ghostbusters machines, shiny and new from what I understand, gathered for the purposes of a tournament for which I was absolutely not qualified.

I’m no pinball wizard by any stretch of the imagination, but I do enjoy a good round or two from time to time.  In fact, while touring the halls, one pinball machine in particular caught my eye: an old foe from days long past had risen from the depths, seeking revenge… 

southern fried gameroom expo godzilla pinball
southern fried gameroom expo

A grueling grudge match with Roland Emmerich’s late-nineties imposter monster ensued.  Alas, my pinball skills are a bit rusty, and GINO, with some help from conspirators Matthew Broderick and Jean Reno, won the day.  I intend to lick my wounds by rewatching a particular scene from Godzilla: Final Wars on repeat until I’m satisfied.

Better.

We stumbled across some of my favorite classic games, including Ghosts ‘n Goblins and Shadow Dancer, and Celeste and I got in quite a few rounds of Tekken 4 while we were at it.  It definitely scratched my itch for some retro gaming, but I was surprised there weren’t more fighting games on display, considering how competitive a scene Atlanta has.  Sure, there were a few MAME Arcade cabinets set up running some iteration of Street Fighter III or another and a Mortal Kombat 3 machine, but not a single Neo-Geo in sight!  Word to whoever provides the arcade cabinets for next year’s expo: I want to see some Fatal Fury and Metal Slug in there!  SNK represent! 

Other Atlanta conventions like DragonCon, Momocon, and AWA feature extensive dealer’s rooms and Artist’s Alleys, but that was not the case here at SFGE.  There were a few vendors set up, but nothing too elaborate.  A tabletop gaming area was also provided, though there was not a whole lot going on there when we checked it out; we might have simply missed the busy period.

There was more going on at SFGE than just games, of course.  An assortment of films were screened, including a number of gaming-related documentaries, but the highlight for me (considering I missed the actual showing) would have to be The Last Starfighter- a movie I loved as a kid and had nearly forgotten until it was brought up (over and over again) in Ernest Cline’s novels.  Lance Guest, Alex Rogan himself, was scheduled to appear for a Q&A as well.  That’s pretty awesome! 

southern fried gameroom expo
southern fried gameroom expo pinball

I was somewhat disheartened to learn that there was a wrestling show on Friday night.  I can’t keep missing these wrestling shows at conventions- I couldn’t get in to see DragonCon Wrestling last year, and now SFGE sneaks one past me.  There is no justice in this world!

There was not a whole lot of cosplay going on at SFGE, despite there being a Costume Contest that night.  I did spot an adorable Pac-Man and a few solid Final Fantasy cosplayers, but something tells me most people attending SFGE were there to play some games- an activity best done without thirty pounds of costume weighing one down.

So, the question begs- was SFGE fun?  Absolutely.  Considering the number of games available, there should be something there for anyone who considers themselves a gamer, old-school or new.  If you’re into that classic style of stand-up gaming, pinball in particular, you’d be out of your mind not to make time for this expo

Atlanta Conventions 2015

atlcon

It’s no secret that Atlanta is a nerdy city, and with convention season just around the corner we rounded up a master list of conventions coming up this year. So sit back, grab a fizzy beverage and start marking your calendar because it’s going to be a busy year.

*Due to the extremely nerdy nature of Atlanta we've excluded a few conventions

Atlanta Sci-Fi & Fantasy Expo (Feb 21-22)

http://www.atlantascifiexpo.com/

This free two day event is a celebration of pop culture creators and fans. It will be held at the North DeKalb Mall and includes panels, gaming tournaments, workshops, a dealers area and even live entertainment.

anachrocon

Anachrocon (Feb 27 - Mar 1)

http://www.anachrocon.com/

Anachrocon is generally known as Atlanta’s “steampunk” convention, but it also celebrates historical reenacting, alternate history, sciences, horror, etiquette & indulgence, fashion, fabrication, history, literature & media. Each year the con has a new general theme, with 2015’s being The 18th Century: Rococo & Revolution. Get ready to lace up your corsets and dawn your top hats folks.

Cardboard Con (March 7)

http://www.cardboardcon.com/

It is exactly what you think it is, Cardboard Con is the first and only sci fi-fantasy convention focusing on the art of cardboard costuming. It’s also the most affordable con (attendance is free!) Just make sure you wear comfortable shoes, because it’s a traveling convention that lasts only 5 hours and spans several convention hotels.

Joelanta & The Great Atlanta Toy Convention (March 13-15)

http://www.joelanta.org/

GI Joe and toy collectors gather round, Joelanta is a must on your con route. While the non-profit con revolves around toy collecting and pop culture, it also features specials guests, toy dioramas,events, and costuming. All proceeds from the convention are donated to The Cody Lane Foundation.

sukoshicon

Sukoshi Con (March 20-22)

http://sukoshicon.com/atlanta_index.html

Sukoshi Con is not a single anime convention, but a brand of conventions in the Southeast. It aims to be a “Social Anime Convention” that focuses on interacting with fellow fans.

Taiga Con (Apr 3 - 5)

http://taigacon.com/

2015 will be the first year this new anime con graces Atlanta. There will be the normal events going on: events, special guests, dealers, and cosplay. Since this is Taiga’s first year around, they made the membership cost very affordable at $25 if you pre-register.

Furry Weekend Atlanta (April 9-12)

http://www.furryweekend.com/

Furry Weekend Atlanta is the 5th largest furry convention and has a new theme every year. This year’s theme is “Shangri-La--The Forgotten Orient.” Prepare you fursuits, kimonos, and qipao ladies and gents. FWA also donates to a charity every year, with Conservator’s Center Inc. being the charity of choice for the last few years.

221B Con (Apr 10 - 12)

http://221bcon.com/

Lovers of the world’s most famous fictional detective will find a lot to love at this convention, whether you’re a neophyte who learned to love Sherlock thanks to Cumberbatch or a long-time reader of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels. This one’s a must if you love mystery fiction.

JordanCon (April 17-19)

http://jordancon.org/

Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series is one of the most popular fantasy series out there, but there’s room at this con for all fans of the genre. The Art Show should be spectacular.

Ren Fest (Apr 18 - Jun 7)

http://www.garenfest.com/

While Ren Fest isn’t technically a convention, it’s an event should be included (plus giant turkey legs and costumes.)

shatterdome

Shatterdome Atlanta (June 13-14)

http://www.shatterdomeatl.org

Another new fan-run convention, Shatterdome focuses on the recent Pacific Rim franchise (which we love.) Be sure to bring your drift compatible partner!

Treklanta (Apr 24 - 26)

http://www.trektrax.org/

Previously known as Trek Trax, Treklanta began as a Trekkie convention. Last year it expanded it’s fandom to include Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, Babylon 5 and other space operas. A few highlights of the con are the MIss Klingon Empire Beauty Pageant & Independent Star Trek Fan Film Awards.

worldhorrorcon

World Horror Convention (May 7-10)

http://www.whc2015.org/

This one’s been around for a long time. There’s a pretty great lineup of guests for this one, including Bob Eggleton, who has been painting covers for Godzilla books, comics, and magazines for decades! Oh, and Charlaine Harris (of Sookie Stackhouse fame) will be there, too.

TimeGate (May 22 - 24)

http://timegatecon.org/

This sci-fi conventions revolves around Doctor Who, & British media and culture. 2015 marks the 10th anniversary of TimeGate.

Game-O-Rama (May 21-25)

http://game-o-rama.com/

This convention dedicated to all things tabletop- RPGs, board games, wargames, etc.-

Momocon (May 28 - 31)

http://www.momocon.com/

Momocon is the fastest growing anime convention in Atlanta. What started out as a free 2 day convention created by Georgia Tech’s anime fan club, it is grown into a 4 day event that attracts oktaus, comic book loves, and gamers alike. We never miss Momocon.

Sci-Fi Summer Con (June 13-14)

http://sfscon.tripod.com/

This con is on the small and inexpensive side with sci-fi, fantasy, horror, comics and gaming themes.

gameroomexpo

Southern-Fried Gameroom Expo (June 19-21)

http://www.southernfriedgameroomexpo.com/

SFGE is a celebration of old school arcade games, pinball machines and home gamerooms. Games like are available to play. Last year at Momocon, SFGE provided a fantastic assortment of arcade games for the gameroom.

DragonCon (Sept. 4 - 7)

http://dragoncon.org/

Everyone knows about Dragoncon, and for good reason. It’s the biggest sci-fi/fantasy con in Atlanta and attracts attendees from around the world.

Anime Weekend Atlanta (Sept. 24 - 27)

http://awa-con.com/

AWA is a popular 4-day con that celebrates anime, manga, cosplay, and Japanese culture.

SIEGE (Oct 1-4)

http://www.siegecon.net/SIEGE2014/

SIEGE is a con centered around the gaming industry, professionals and amateurs alike. If you’re one of the many game design students out there looking to make some connections in the industry or just pick up some pointers from the seminars, this one should be on your radar.

monsterama

Monsterama (Oct 2 - 4)

http://monsteramacon.com/

What do you get when you combine Dracula, Swamp Thing and Godzilla? Monsteramaa, a con focused on the fantastic in film, literature, and art.

Walker Stalker Convention (Oct 30 - Nov 1)

http://www.walkerstalkercon.com/atlanta/

Confession time: we’re not really the biggest fans of Walking Dead. It might not be for us, but there’s no denying that it’s one of the biggest pop culture phenomenons of the last several years… and now it has its own convention, spawned from the Walker Stalker podcast. If you love zombies, you need to check this one out.

CONjuration (Nov 13 - 15)

http://www.conjurationcon.com/

2014 was CONjuration’s first magical year. A fan-run con, it aims to create a environment for fans of Harry Potter, LOTR, Hobbit, Supernatural & other magical literature & movies.

ACC, Atlanta Comic Con

http://www.atlantacomicconvention.com/

ACC is a one-day show held four times a year here in Atlanta. It’s a smaller con, but it’s a great place to hunt down that one rare issue that has been eluding you for ages. The free totes and t-shirts are always great, too. Don’t show up to this one broke!

Wizard World Atlanta

http://www.wizardworld.com/home-atlanta.html

Wizard World is one of the biggest and most well-known nerd conventions in America, and its Atlanta incarnation is the convention we probably want to hit up the most this year. The celebrity guest lineup is top-notch!


 Cover photo by coka_koehler