I will never retire my desire to keep trying new things and experiencing different places. This past June, a one-of-a-kind convention took place deep within the hills of Oaks, Pennsylvania outside Philadelphia. If I told you that a major, international convention was taking place within the Philadelphia Expo Center, you probably wouldn’t believe me. But beyond the doors leading into the expo center was TooManyGames, a video game convention that truly lives up to its name.
This was my third year attending the convention and it is quickly becoming the go-to destination for gamers on the East Coast. This year it brought individuals from overseas, like YouTuber Caddicarus. Throughout my past few years there, including this year, I have had a great time, acquiring difficult-to-acquire games, playing games under development, and even experiencing amazing concerts. Looking back on it, it is hard to believe it all started when I roamed the halls of another convention, AVGC.
AVGC, which is short for A Video Game Convention, had established itself as the very first, truly dedicated video game convention in New Jersey. When I went in 20115, it was a small but bustling convention, and a huge hit for the local gaming community. As I walked about the halls, a small booth appeared, promoting TooManyGames (TMG). Since I had just graduated college, I was bustling with the energy of unending adventure, I wound up going to TMG in the Summer of 2016. Despite going alone, I had a fantastic time.
When attending TooManyGames, you’ll feel a blast from the past, when games ran on cartridges and players needed a VCR and the ability to tune to channel 3 to play. The dealer’s room at TooManyGames is lined with hard-to-find souvenirs of a time well past, but it shows how dedicated gamers and locally-owned game stores are dedicated. Along the rows of vendors, I found entire games completely sealed from the N64 and SNES days. of course, they were going for the price of a car payment, but it was still amazing to see games and systems so well preserved.
This is a crowd that can tell the lesser-known and obscure parts of gaming experiences, such as drawing an overworld map for Metroid or observing a glass mug that was exclusive to Nintendo employees in 1994. Having been to plenty of other conventions, this is one rooted deeply in the past. Even I found myself reminiscing on games that I hadn’t seen in years, with titles such as Vectorman or a sealed copy of ReBoot for the original PlayStation.
Within all of these games lies a memory, or two, or perhaps dozens, of players having fun, experiencing new worlds and events. The memories are shared by their family and friends, from their parents to people they met at school. It was a special sentiment I shared too. Looking at some of the older games, systems, merchandise, and even signage. I was reminded of what it was like to open a brand-new game, playing it for the first time, experiencing the gameplay and presentation.
That being said, TooManyGames isn’t just a nostalgia trip. It is also about embracing gaming history, our experiences with games, and the special people gamers come across. This year the gaming celebrities included, Mike Pollock, the voice of Doctor Eggman returned for another year and he was also joined by Chris Martinet, the voice of Mario, and Scott Burns the voice of Bowser. Team FourStar returned and I managed to attend a panel with YouTube channel The Game Chasers & BeatEmUps, who go on weekly adventures hunting rare and hard-to-find video games. I had the fortunate opportunity to have met the aforementioned guests, and even had time to see a Hyper Potions concert, who was the team that gave listeners the music to the Sonic Mania trailers.
TooManyGames also celebrated the new, as well as what was to come. An entire section of the show floor was dedicated to the rise of indie developers from the local area. Games like Eagle Island, The Great Gaias, Meme Machine, Mask of Semblance, and plenty of more games were available for players to play and interact with. It was a unique experience to talk to and interact with developers who were actively working hard to make the experience they wish to make for others to see and enjoy.
I left TooManyGames with an inspiration to always be passionate, no matter what stage you are in life. I’ve been playing video games for a long time and can recall how difficult it was to find a community of like-minded individuals who were just as excited as video games as I was. It was difficult, being bullied or rejected because of my enthusiasm for games, but I was far too fascinated by them to just give up and conform to what society wanted. To see the enthusiasm for gaming at conventions like this and the con-goers’ defiance against conformity is infectious and overwhelmingly positive. It reminds me to stay strong and true to the things that you enjoy, no matter how weird it may appear to be to others.
Next year’s TooManyGames will certainly happen, but it’ll be interesting to see who comes next, and what my wallet will be attracted to next. No matter what, I’ll be there again.