On the morning of January 20, 2018, barely three months after the Portland Retro Gaming Expo, gamers from in and around Portland Oregon ready for more lined up outside the DoubleTree hotel for the Fourth Annual Northwest Classic Gaming Enthusiasts Swap Meet. While nowhere near the size of the Expo, the Swap Meet still managed to draw hundreds of retro gaming fans to the exhibit hall to browse the more than fifty vendor tables.
For the last few years I’ve actually looked forward to the Swap Meet more than the Expo. Sure, I miss the free play arcade and listening to another selection from Rob Zdybel’s endless trove of stories of working at Atari, but the smaller crowd makes for a more enjoyable browsing experience and I almost always find better deals and often end up buying more at the smaller show. While that wasn’t the case this year, that’s due more to the shifting retro gaming market (fewer of the Atari, Intellivision and Colecovision games I’m looking for, more emphasis on the Playstation and Xbox games that I’m not) than a lack of deals to be had. There were some pre-crash rarities on display though, including a boxed Vectrex 3D Imager and a sealed copy of The Berenstain Bears for the Atari 2600, but those were out of my price range.
The Swap Meet offers a no-frills approach to buying and trading games and meeting other members of the local gaming community. Without the live DJ, costume contests and lines of people waiting to listen to a presentation by a YouTube “star,” it puts the emphasis on the games rather than the spectacle. It also gives some perspective on just how much the Portland Retro Gaming Expo has grown. The is the room that housed PRGE 2011.
The Portland Retro Gaming Expo is an event every fan of classic video games should visit at least once in their lives. The Northwest Classic Gaming Enthusiasts Swap Meet is one I’d visit every weekend. If you live in the area and you missed the Swap Meet, don’t fret, your next opportunity isn’t far away. The Cowlitz Gamers for Kids Expo is scheduled for March 31 in Longview Washington, just 50 miles north of Portland on I-5.