Hot on the heels of last weekend’s C2E2 convention is the Midwest Gaming Classic in Milwaukee at the Wisconsin Center. This “unique social trade show” has been around for 20 years now, with creators Dan Loosen and Gary Heil hosting the inaugural gathering in a Boy Scout Service Center for about 100 game enthusiasts. It’s grown exponentially since that time though, and after filling up the Brookfield, Wisconsin Sheraton, has doubled its space by making the move to downtown Milwaukee’s Wisconsin Center for 2018. This year’s show features everything gaming from regional air hockey tournaments to retro game museums and indie showcases. This 3-day show begins Friday the 13th with a sold-out evening event, but tickets are still available at the door for Saturday and Sunday.
Video game enthusiasts, pinball wizards and even tabletop fans will find this trade show/convention has something for them, and the price of admission includes the chance to play everything for free (with the exception of the crane games.) There’s also live music throughout, and a lineup of speakers from the gaming and pinball industries. And, of course, no convention or trade show would be complete without a vendor hall, and Midwest Gaming Classic will have 50,000 square feet dedicated to its 100+ vendors, who will be selling all things new and retro-game related.
Pinball is a huge part of this event, with quite a few large pinball companies in attendance, in some cases showcasing world premieres like Stern Pinball’s Iron Maiden pinball machine. There will be over 250 machines, and as with the arcade cabinets, admission means not needing to empty your pockets of change, as all the pinball you can handle can be had sans quarters.
A few of the guests we found noteworthy include some we saw just this past weekend at C2E2, including Daniel Pesina and John Parrish of Mortal Kombat, as well as Chicago’s own Svengoolie, Richard Koz, who were all amazing in their respective C2E2 panels.
There are plenty of guests to be excited about, including some pretty big names in classic video games. The voice behind Duke Nukem, Jon St. John is a featured guest; David Crane, who worked 1982’s Pitfall! and NES classic A Boy and His Blob; also famed developers Eugene Jarvis and Larry Demar, the talent behind video game classics Defender and Robotron 2084. Just in time for the release of Rampage in theaters, Brian Collins, the creator of the classic game, will be on hand as well, with the original arcade cabinets (provided by legendary Brookfield, IL arcade Galloping Ghost). Scott Adams, who is known as “the father of adventure games” rounds out this list of guests that caught our eye, though there is a ton of notable classic gaming icons attending. You can browse the full list here.
Though the Midwest Gaming Classic takes place in Wisconsin, there’s a heavy Chicago presence, with I Play Games‘ Kevin Fair bringing his excellent games setup over state lines, as well as the heavy presence of great Chicago arcades like Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfield (the world’s largest arcade),Pixel Blast Arcade in Lisle and the Chicago Gaming Company out of Cicero. There’s even an indie showcase in that vein including the developers from The Moon Fields planned to be on hand.
Some points of interest if you decide to make the trip include the Classic Gaming and Computing Museum, which feature hundreds of retro consoles and computers loaded with classic games that in most cases, are completely playable. In that same vein, there will be an iMac LAN set up for Quake, and the Underdog Chamber, which seeks to showcase games that may have been overlooked for their shinier, more well-known friends. There’s also a setup for Xbox 360 LAN play and a Giant Screen Gaming room which will allow you to play some of your favorite games on the (very) big screen. Tabletop gamers will find lending libraries and plenty of space to chill with a group, too.
Last year, the Midwest Gaming Classic blew out its doors at the Sheraton, with 10,000 attendees getting in on all the video game action, so expect it to be at least that busy if you decide to make the trip, though with a venue offering double the space, we can’t imagine it’ll be particularly claustrophobic. It looks to be a pretty epic event for anyone who loves pinball, classic or modern gaming or tabletop adventures, so if you’re someone who falls into that category, we certainly suspect you wouldn’t leave disappointed. Presales for tickets have ended but tickets will be available at the doors all three days of the event. For more information, including how you can hop public transportation from Chicago to the show, take a look at the Midwest Gaming Classic’s website and Facebook page.