Geek Speak: Brian Hughes, organizer of Vancouver Retro Gaming Expo

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      Brian Hughes is planning a celebration of classic video games like Castlevania, The Legend of Zelda, and Space Invaders. The 35-year-old Maple Ridge resident is organizing the Vancouver Retro Gaming Expo, which is slated to take place on March 17.

      Born in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Hughes is the owner of Gamedeals Video Games (407 Columbia Street) in New Westminster. The store opened its doors in 2006 and now features a gamer lounge. In 2011, Gamedeals launched a second location in Gastown, but shut down the shop several month later. While it’s not an easy time for independent video-game stores, Hughes says he’s “hoping to keep things alive”.

      Meanwhile, Hughes expects a sell-out crowd of 500 people to attend the Vancouver Retro Gaming Expo at the Columbia (530 Columbia Street) in New West. Tickets are available on the expo’s website and at Gamedeals.

      The Georgia Straight reached Hughes by phone at his store.

      How do you define a retro game?

      That’s a tough one. It used to be that a retro game was Atari and older, Pong and stuff. Now that people have gotten older, from asking around, it seems everything up to N64 and PS1 era is considered retro nowadays. But the majority of it is the Nintendo, Super Nintendo era. Probably Atari to Super Nintendo is what the majority of people consider retro.

      What’s your favourite retro game?

      I don’t know. I’ve always been a fan of the Zelda series. So, probably, if you had to define it by retro, I’d say A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time. I’ve liked a lot of retro games, but I wouldn’t necessarily consider one of them my favourite.

      Why did you decide to organize the Vancouver Retro Gaming Expo?

      It was actually after going to the Portland Retro Gaming Expo. I heard about it and decided to go on a whim to see what it was like. It was interesting. The whole time I was there I had a good time, and I got to meet a lot of the different store owners and go to different panels and play some gaming and stuff, and it occurred to me that Vancouver doesn’t have anything like it. I thought about the Vancouver scene and I thought about who could put together that kind of event, and I realized that it would probably just fall on my shoulders. So, I said, “All right, let’s do it.”

      What should attendees expect to experience at the event?

      Well, there’s going to be a lot of dealers, a lot of the local shops, as well as independent sellers, and some artists are going to be there selling their stuff. So, big vender room. Retro gaming, some retro tournaments. There’s going to be panels upstairs with some YouTube celebrities and a couple other big collector types.

      In the evening, we’re going to have the charity auction for Child’s Play. It’s a licensed venue, so we’re having nerd burlesque in the late evening as well. Live DJ all day. It’s basically boring swap meet with gaming but made into a party.

      After the first expo, where do you think this event might go in the future?

      That’s a very good question. I don’t know. I’m expecting the first one will go well. There will most likely be a second one. After that, I’m not quite sure. We might expand into an all-around gaming expo, or we might just keep the retro theme. It kind of depends on what everyone else in the community is doing.

      There’s a lot of expos that are trying to compete with each other, especially in the anime scene, and I don’t really want the video-game-expo scene to become that. Whether it becomes another retro gaming expo or an all types of modern and retro gaming expo or whether we have an expo that encompasses tabletop and Magic and that kind of stuff too, I’m not quite sure where it’s going to go.

      Every Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? You can tell Stephen Hui on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.