Massive video game expo blasts into Irving with free play, celebs, and retro fun
One of the most interactive video game conventions in the country, the Let’s Play Gaming Expo, blasts back into Dallas-Fort Worth for an action-packed weekend of alien invading, dot munching, and pixel blasting. The all-ages event will take place August 9-11 at the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas.
If you’ve never been to Let’s Play, here’s the deal: you can get your game on with console and arcade games all weekend long, leaving your quarters at home as all games are set on free play, including such classics as Pac-Man, Q*bert, and Space Invaders.
Convention organizers team with some of the premiere collectors in Texas, so there will be rarities to check out, as well. If you haven’t played the Atari 2600 or ColecoVision in decades, the console area will send you back in time to your childhood.
Tournaments will be held throughout the weekend; most are free with admission, but you will need to pony up $10 to take part in the Southern Regional Qualifier for the Classic Tetris World Championship, which will be held at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo in Oregon.
For collectors, Let’s Play features a sprawling vendor’s area with more than 85 booths filled to the brim with cartridges, consoles, and collectibles. There'll be boxed rarities, complete game systems, toys and related items, and much more for sale.
Celebrity guest speaker
Of course, no world-class video game con is complete without special guests. This year's featured guest speaker is Brian F. Colin, who designed and created the art for Rampage, the 1986 coin-op classic from Bally/Midway. The game, which featured giant, Godzilla-type monsters crushing buildings, was made into a feature film last year starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Colin, who lives just outside of Chicago, was invited to the set during the production of the movie, part of which was filmed in Chicago.
“Someone from the Chicago casting company called me and said they’d love to have me down since I created Rampage,” he says. “I was an extra running through the streets of Chicago a couple of weekends, and then someone called me over and said, ‘Hey, this is the second unit director and the assistant director, would you like to do a cameo?’, and I said ‘Sure.’ I spent an entire afternoon running away from an imaginary building, running behind cars, cameras mounted on huge trains. It was fun and wonderful, but exhausting — It was 90 degrees, and I thought I was gonna have a heart attack.” [Laughs]
A couple of weeks later, Colin got a call from John Rickard, who produced the film. He invited Colin out to Hollywood for the final week of shooting.
“I got to hang out and meet The Rock,” he says. “He was as nice as everybody says he is. He was in the middle of filming one of the final scenes of the movie while I was taking pictures with the producers. He was like, ‘Stop, stop I’ve got to be a part of this.’ He came down, and I found out later he was a big fan of Rampage as a child, so I’m geeking out over him, and he’s geeking out over me. It was a wonderful, wonderful experience. I was treated like royalty and got to go to the premiere.”
Colin says he's looking forward to coming out to Let’s Play and meeting and greeting fans.
“Some of the nicest fans and collectors are in Texas,” he says. “I don’t think I get embraced anywhere as much as I do in Texas. They are so welcoming, and they tell me great places to go after the show.”
Other special guests will include voice actor John St. John (Duke Nukem), voice actor Dameon Clarke (Borderlands), cosplayer Dee Rich, YouTuber The 8-Bit Guy, and voice actor Jeff Baker (Star Trek: Legacy), among others. A 30th anniversary celebration of The Wizard video game movie will take place, featuring actor Luke Edwards, who played Jimmy Woods in the film. The Wizard writer David Chisholm and producer Ken Topolsky will be there, as well.
Let’s Play Gaming Expo takes place from noon to 8 pm August 9, and 10 am to 6 pm August 10-11. Tickets are $20-$35. For more information, visit the website.