Many years ago when I was a fledgling journalist, the first convention I ever covered was Play Expo in Blackpool.  Held in a dingy, run down hotel, it was still the most exciting thing I’d ever done.  Here I was, living my dream of being a video games journalist and providing coverage of conventions.  Now, Play Expo has extended it’s reach to Glasgow and I entered the very much less run down venue of the Intu Braehead.

Play Expo is a little bit different from other gaming conventions, with a focus on retro games, arcade units and pinball machines. One side of the sizeable Braehead arena was covered with pinball machines.  Bright lights and the almost fairground-esque music luring young and old alike.  I personally played an Indiana Jones machine that had a pistol to fire to release your pinball.  Great fun.

The arcade cabinets rub shoulders with the pinball machines, the variety of machines staggering.  From Space Harrier to Paperboy, Frogger to The Simpsons, there was a game for every taste.  The presence of some rare cabinets as well was a crowd pleaser, the Out Run deluxe moving cockpit proving popular all weekend.

Some impressive cosplays were also on offer throughout the weekend, not only by the amazing guests Axios Cosplay, Draculuna and WYSH creative, but also showcased by contestants in the Cosplay Masquerade.  Highlights include a fully mechanised Halloween Freddy costume, a plucky DJ Marshmallow, who bravely got up on stage a second time after a technical difficulty with their performance, and a rather well executed Alucard from Castlevania.

The crown jewel of Play Expo for me however was in the show The Dark Room.  Written by John Robertson, it’s a media experience mashing video games with theatre.  It needs to be seen to be believed.  With lashings of  audience participation, foul language and a rather flamboyant potato, your mission is to escape The Dark Room by navigating a 80s style text based adventure.  The Oregon Trail has nothing on this.

Play Expo is a convention that showcases nostalgia.  Pinball machines, retro consoles and arcade cabinets can be viewed by some as obsolete, but the amount of love shown by enthusiasts and the joy in the faces of those who played the machines means that they will never truly die.  With the impending new generation of consoles on the horizon after E3 last weekend, it’s nice to see that we don’t always have to rush forward to the newest thing.  Sometimes, you just need something comforting, familiar.  And that’s okay.

This article has been written by Indy Goodwin at Polkadots & Video Games. You can read more of her articles here and visit her blog here.