Coverage of Classic Gaming Expo 2001

 Today on CNN: remember Atari, ColecoVision? How about Intellivsion? Well, just ask these guys.

Games today certainly have better graphics and better sound, but back then it was all about the gameplay. A blast from the techno past as we take you to the Classic Gaming Expo. This is CNN dot COM.

CNN dot com, I'm Bruce Burkhardt, James Hattori is on assignment. We're coming to you this week from the Magic Johnson Theater in Atlanta, Georgia. Most video games today, like these, are teeming with realistic graphics or complex plots. But every once in a while you'll see a blast from the past, like Ms. Pac-man. Well, Marc Saltzman takes us to a place were Ms. Pac-man has never gone out of style, and Donkey Kong is still king. Let's go to the Classic Gaming Expo.

Today's videogames boast jaw-dropping graphics, incredible surround sound, and thanks to the net, the ability to play against anyone, anywhere else in the world. So why do these folks prefer the games of yesteryear?

[Joe Santulli] "This is the time when games were simple and people could just plug a game in, fire it up and play the game without a 32 page instruction manual or a degree in physics. You just plug it in and have a good time".

 In the late and early 80's video games were simple 2-dimensional diversions that required a joystick, maybe a button or two, and an imagination. Yet countless gamers still prefer these classics. So it's no wonder that more than a thousand gamers from around the globe flocked to the annual Classic Gaming Expo held recently in Las Vegas to congregate, celebrate, and recreate the origins of the multi-billion dollar video game industry. Here, gamers can wax nostalgic by playing the classics, engage in buying rare collector items, and most importantly meet the industry veterans responsible for it all.

[Rick Dyer] "One of the reporters who was interviewing us said:  'You know I have a story that I have to share with you. I was in Hawaii for my very first time and that happened to be the week that Dragon's Lair was introduced to Hawaii ... I never saw the beach!'. And I looked at him and I said, 'oh my gosh, I'm so sorry' and he said, 'no, it was the best week of my life!'"

Dragon's Lair was the first laser disc game to hit the market, back in 1983. Now, it's in its 19th year, and has pulled in more than $130 million in revenue. That's a lot of quarters, and more will be rolling in, coming next year is "Dragon's Lair 3D" a classic brought into the 21st century. Hollywood veteran Don Bluth, responsible for titan A.E. among many other films, is in charge of the animation.

[Don Bluth] "The old original was a movie, and if you make the right choice you have to go on watching the movie. Not anymore. Not so this time, you have to actually move him around, you have to push buttons and you tell him what to do so you become like a puppeteer of this little creature".

That sophistication might be a little much for folks devoted to the classics.

[John Champeau] "Actually you know I have a PlayStation that I haven't touched for a couple of years now just collecting dust. I've just been playing the Atari."

[Mark Champeau] "The older games offer a lot of family fun. We can sit down with the family and play the games. A lot of the newer games are really fast, a lot of them are kind of complicated, and take months to learn."

Many of these classics seem to strike a chord with gamers, even if they weren't around when these games debuted.

The Classic Gaming Expo is not just for those who have come to play or purchase these old games, but believe it or not all-NEW games even debut here for these ancient systems, such as the ColecoVision. Anybody remember one of these?

[Joe Santulli] "You've got a number of 'home-brew' games on display and also being sold. These are guys who are modern day classic game designers. They have the technology in their hands. They know how to do the programming, and they come out once a year with these brand new games to offer to people who have dusted off those older systems".

To these folks, it's never really game over.

Marc Saltzman, CNN - Las Vegas