California Extreme: Retro Arcade Weekend (July 13-14)

California Extreme in Santa Clara, California is dubbed as the “Classic Arcade Games Show” with hundreds of arcade machines, pinball machines, and a variety of speakers talking about these vintage games this July 13-14th weekend.  Whether you were a child during the golden age of arcades or a young gamer who wants to see living arcade history in its halcyon days, California Extreme is the place to be to see the classics.

And aside from the $60 weekend registration fee, you won’t need a single quarter to play these games.

Having attended California Extreme last year, I’ve been able to see this annual living museum of arcade games from simple pinball machines to obscure arcade games like Panic Park that technically is illegal to play in California due to all the lawsuit liabilities to even some pinball games that make use of modern technology. The attendees are usually die hard arcade fans or are collectors who contribute their treasured machines for others to play. Even with all the free play, the attendees are actually kind enough to let awaiting players have a shot once their current game is over. I enjoy the waves of nostalgia when I stand up to play classics like Asteroids or something a bit more modern like Time Crisis.

Though things get a bit more rough during tournaments. Pinball players look on nervously as rivals slowly knock out the top score 10 points at a time. Trash talking through fighting game tournaments requires a better choice of words since you no longer have the anonymity of the Internet to hide behind. Or the aforementioned Panic Park tournament where it is anything goes and it takes a combination of guile, speed, and brute strength to triumph. Watch out for mallets.

So if you’re in the Santa Clara area and want to see what gaming was like before online play took out most of the etiquette needed to be in the same room with other people, California Extreme fits the bill well. Who knows, you might even listen in on some excellent panels or win your own arcade machine.