Classic Gaming Expo at E3

May 12-14, 2004

A Pictorial Journal by Joe Santulli
with photos by Santulli, Don Rogers and Larry Anderson

The Classic Gaming Expo exhibited their "History of Video Games" display at E3 2004. The exhibit was sponsored by Intellivision Productions and proved to be wildly successful, far surpassing the expectations of E3 and CGE people. 65,000+ attendees got the chance to revisit the roots of the industry, relax, and reminisce.

The Voyage: The journey started in Las Vegas, where John, Sean and I loaded up the big rig with goods from our storage facility. If you think those gas prices are crazy, imagine sitting in the middle of the truck cab with a stick shift between your legs and Sean's often violent shifting habits.
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The Set-Up: Tuesday was spent getting the place in order. Our first experience at E3 included compressing as much of Classic Gaming Expo into 2400 square feet as possible. These few moments before the show opened would be the last quiet ones in Kentia Hall.
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The Push: The superb signage, courtesy of our friends at E3 directed traffic toward the CGE exhibit all week long. The addition of ten foot tall kiosks in the main concourse didn't hurt either - imagine just strolling along and finding the complete Activision 2600 collection displayed on the way to your destination!
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The Kiosks: Here's a better look, you can see Sega tucked behind the monolithic CGE kiosks, one of which housed this Activision tribute (which was really fun to put together). Over at the booth, two more kiosks were used to put some super rare items like a complete boxed Adventurevision set, Atari Mindlink, and the Sega Neptune proto behind glass.
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The Media: We had dozens of opportunities throughout the three day exhibit to spread the good word of classic gaming to the mainstream. MTV2, Reuters, G4TV, TechTV, PlayStation Underground,, Playboy Channel, and many more domestic media outlets stopped by to get a few words (or a complete tour). There were also media teams from Japan, Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Poland, and Italy at our display!
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The Couches: The signature of Classic Gaming Expo was just as much fun for the attendees at E3. We even stopped to pick up an extra couch (the funky white floral one you see here) at a thrift store in Las Vegas before heading out here. With an Atari 2600 in one room and an Intellivision in the other, there was no shortage of multi-player mayhem with Warlords, Shark! Shark! and many more.
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The Centerpieces: a few of the rare items that were free to touch and play at our exhibit included an original Pong machine, Computer Space (not only the first coin-op ever but also the very model that Nolan Bushnell himself surmised could have been the first one ever made), and a replica of Ralph Baer's Brown Box, the prototype that would later be used to create the world's first home console, the Odyssey.
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The Band: Another signature of Classic Gaming Expo, 8-Bit Weapon was on hand to amaze the crowd with their foot-stomping techno remixes, using a variety of interesting modified instruments including a paddle, a Game Boy, toy drums, and a Commodore 64.
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The Arcade: The CGE arcade featured over 30 classic coin-ops set to free play. Extra special thanks to Steve Hertz and Gene Lewin for their machines, patience and coordination!
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The Museum: It wasn't easy compressing the normally massive CGE museum into just four tables of history, but arranged a timeline that split pre and post-crash consoles up with an interactive set of playable units. There was also a handheld display featuring everything from Game & Watch to TurboExpress.
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The Memories: Never before have I seen so many smiling faces. It seemed as if no one could walk by this lo-tech exhibit without stopping and re-living some of the games of our youth. Everything from Odyssey to 3DO was set up for play, and this area was the one where you'd most likely hear "I remember THIS!"
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The Breakfast: On Thursday morning CGE and Intellivision Productions hosted a media breakfast where you not only got a decent meal right from our living room area, but also a meet & greet with several industry legends who made special appearances, including David Crane, Alan Miller, Garry Kitchen, Steve Cartwright, Dave Warhol, Don Daglow, Bob Whitehead, and George "The Fatman" Sanger.
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The Kiosks: Though it took a miracle to restore the crumbling ColecoVision kiosk you see here, we managed to shore it up with some new boards and a lot of elbow grease. It was joined by a recent addition to the CGE stables, this Atari Home Computer display. A few more bits of nostalgia for those who worshipped these systems from behind retail lines in the day.
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The Crowds: We knew there would be over 60,000 attendees at E3, but what we didn't know was that practically all of them would visit us in Kentia Hall. If you've ever been to E3 before, you've NEVER seen Kentia like this before. E3 management and Kentia's other exhibitors shared their elation with the crowds that flocked to see "what was old" at E3 this year.
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The Peeps: Without the dedicated service of the Classic Gaming Expo staff, this event would never have gone so smoothly. Special thanks to my CGE partners John Hardie and Sean Kelly, and to staffers Kevin Staszkow, Jayson Hill, Laura and Michael Tisdale, Leonard Herman, Larry Anderson, Steve Hertz, Jim Combs, Don Rogers, Don Evanoff, and Don's Gamestop cronies Brian, Jim, and Rodrigo. Thanks as well to Keith Robinson of Intellivision Productions, whose support really lent a professional touch to the exhibit!
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The Return: A slightly more relaxing ride back to Vegas to drop off the empty rig. Sean flew out early Saturday morning, while John and I headed back to hook up with members of our Vegas team Rob and Brian Mundo, who have been a tremendous help over the years during our stay in Sin City.
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Next stop... SAN JOSE!
More photos courtesy Don Rogers

More photos courtesy Larry Anderson

More photos courtesy Joe Santulli

Don's Booth Babe Photos

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