I really enjoyed visiting PGRE this weekend, but it was very clear that this retro gaming hobby has moved on a bit. There were two trends that made this show so different from the Classic Gaming Expos I loved in the 2000s.
1) Nintendo Kids
For many of the attendees, their retro games started with the NES or Super NES or Sega Genesis. I suspect some of the attendees started with the Playstation/N64 era. It's great to see so many people excited about those systems, but it drowned out much of the discussion of anything older. Of course, it was great that PGRE still had space for those -- there was a lot of Intellivision love, Al did a great job with the AtariAge booth, and I loved seeing a fair amount of Atari 8-bit computer hardware on display. There was also a table full of TI 99/4A systems. However, most of the games available were NES and newer, sometimes with a box of 2600 and Intellivision commons over to the side.
2) YouTube Celebrities
I saw a bunch of good panels at PGRE, but the ones that consistently had long lines and capacity rooms were the YouTubers. Angry Video Game Nerd, Metal Jesus Rocks, Gaming HIstorian, Pat the NES Punk, and so on. I admit they can be entertaining, but it was a little sad that people were more interested in seeing the people that talk about games than then people that actually made the games. I was in the Imagic talk on Sunday and there were 40 people in the room, compared the the 150+ for an earlier talk about the Super Mario Brothers movie.
So, the event left me feeling a bit old. I probably won't be back next year (Portland's pretty far from Austin), but I'm glad I did get to experience it. It did give me some ideas to suggest to the organizers of Austin's own Classic Game Fest.