The southeast is no stranger to fan conventions. We’re already home to notable fantasy, comic, and anime cons, but what you may not realize is that we also have our very own homegrown retro-gaming event.
Later this month, arcade and pinball aficionados will descend on Atlanta for the Southern-Fried Gameroom Expo. As it turns out, our very own GeekDad Preston helps helm the event, and he agreed to take some valuable time away from last-minute preparation to give us the story behind SFGE (not to mention a pretty amazing giveaway).
GeekDad: Preston, what exactly is the Southern-Fried Gameroom Expo?
Preston Burt: The Southern-Fried Gameroom Expo (or SFGE) is a gaming convention held in Atlanta, Georgia over Father’s Day weekend (June 19-21, 2015) with a focus on vintage and modern coin-op arcades, pinball machines, and both retro and modern video game consoles. Basically, we celebrate the gameroom and the games inside with a huge free-play arcade, tournaments, seminars, special guests, and film screenings featuring the hobby we love!
GD: Is this the first SFGE, or is it a recurring Atlanta event?
PB: This is the second annual Southern-Fried Gameroom Expo. It was created by a group of five local arcade and pinball collectors who missed seeing the games and the social atmosphere that came with the arcades of our youths. We were plugged into the collector community who had tons of enthusiasm and tons of great games in their basements. Our goal was to bring those amazing games out of people’s basements and bring people together to share in the fun and social element these games were created for.
GD: The Southern-Fried Gameroom Expo looks to offer a lot to serious pinball and arcade collectors, but what about more casual fans?
PB: Oh, you definitely don’t have to be a hardcore gamer to have fun! I can’t tell you how many people last year said they were reluctantly brought to the show by their significant other only to have a wonderful time and are coming back for more this year! We’ll have tons of classic games such as Pac-Man and Donkey Kong that appeal to the nostalgia of most adults, but also new technologies like the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset from our friends at Atlanta VR. Also, it’s easy to get swept up in competition with our multiple tournaments throughout the weekend including Walking Dead Pinball, Mario Kart, Mortal Kombat X, and even our new “Level Up” live gameshow!
GD: Is SFGE family-friendly?
PB: Of course! All of the organizers are parents, and part of the reason we started this event was to share our wonderful memories of the games we played growing up and to introduce a whole new generation of young people to gaming. We even have a special Medieval Madness kids’ tournament on Saturday with special costumed guests for pictures with the kiddos. Everything before 10 PM will be kid- and family-friendly.
GD: Obviously there will be a number of arcade machines for sale, but what else can we expect from onsite vendors?
PB: You can expect everything from t-shirts, posters, and magazines to custom game controllers and circuit boards from our vendors. In addition to the vintage games available from exhibitors, we’ll also have the absolute newest pinball machines direct from the Stern Pinball factory floor. If you’re looking to spruce up your gameroom lineup or decor, we’ve got you covered.
GD: You also seem to have a number of interesting speakers lined up; who’s not to be missed?
PB: Our keynote speaker this year is Brian Colin, who designed the classic arcade Rampage, Arch Rivals, and Xenophobe among others. In addition to him, we have legendary pinball design team Dennis Nordman and Greg Freres, “Pac-Man Fever” recording artist Jerry Buckner, Internet sensation and tech modder Ben Heck, and Video Game Player of the Century, and co-star of the movie King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, Billy Mitchell.
GD: One of the most exciting aspects is easily the Free Play Games Area. Are you sure I don’t need to bring a pocketful of quarters?
PB: Absolutely! Your admission fee grants you access to all of our over 200 games on free play! You can play everything from a Magnavox Odyssey to the new KISS pinball machine without dropping a quarter.
GD: The Southern-Fried Gameroom Expo is a labor of love by you and the other members of Player One, LLC, but surely you can’t do it all by yourselves! Are you still accepting volunteer applications?
PB: We are gladly accepting volunteers to trade some of their weekend hours to help out at the show in exchange for a free pass. We could use help in almost all aspects of the show from adding credits to games, checking badges, and game repair. Just check our website and fill out a volunteer application to get the ball rolling.
GD: I’m sold! So how much are tickets, and can out-of-towners get a special rate at your host hotel, the Marriott?
PB: Weekend passes are $50 for adults and $30 for children ages 6-12. Kids 5 and under get in free with a paid adult ticket (limit 2 per adult admission). One-day passes are available at the door only and range from $15-$25 per day for adults with $10 per day tickets for kids all weekend long. Rooms are still available at the Marriott Century Center, but unfortunately we’ve sold out of our exclusive room rate. Atlanta has great rates on hotels in general, and would be a perfect spot to stop on your family vacation.
GD: Ok, Preston, SFGE features free games, movies, speakers, and tournaments, but I understand you also have something very special for one lucky GeekDad reader. Tell me about this giveaway.
PB: Yes, we are thrilled to offer one lucky GeekDad reader a Southern-Fried Gameroom Expo family prize pack. This prize pack includes weekend passes for a family of four, a two-night hotel stay at the Marriott Century Center, and an event poster signed by our special guests! Basically, we’re going to provide one family a fun-filled weekend of gaming with a touch of Southern hospitality!
You read that right, folks; enter your information below before 11:59 PM Eastern on Sunday, June 7th for a chance to win four weekend passes for this month’s Southern-Fried Gameroom Expo, a two-night hotel stay at Atlanta’s Marriott Century Center, and a special SFGE poster.
Best of luck to all our entrants, and GeekDad hopes to see you at SFGE 2015!
Open to US residents only.
One entry per physical address.
Must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
Winner will be notified via the email addresses supplied at time of entry.
Prizes are supplied by 3rd parties, and GeekDad.com cannot be held liable for items damaged or lost in shipping.