Friday, March 15, 2013

Family business.

This weekend we're at the Texas Pinball Festival promoting the "family business," Brett's Classic Home Video Games book series.

We've been attending this event for years (check out these flashbacks from 2009 and 2008), but this time it's in a new, bigger location (the Hilton Anatole). The Trinity Ballroom must be at least as long as a football field, and it's filled with pinball machines as well as arcade video game cabinets, all set on free play. Vendors line the walls, selling a wide array of pinball paraphernalia, such as electronic parts and custom shooter rods. There's even a vendor selling nightlights made out of pinball bumpers! But the best table has games, game-related toys, T-shirts, and, oh yes, all three volumes of Classic Home Video Games books.

Ryan and Katie will be helping Brett man the table through the weekend, but tonight I'm here to check out the action while giving my man a break, too.

Considering the number of old games here, this place feels like a hands-on museum. It's fun to not just see but also play the old wooden pinball cabinets along with games featuring the celebrities of my youth, from Evel Knievel to the Six Million Dollar Man.

It's been interesting to chat with fans who pause at our table, and I've even shaken hands with two celebrities: a champion gamer and the head of a huge gaming group. I had met the game champ at the hall of fame event in Austin, but l didn't know the convention guy. When Ryan saw me talking to him, though, he was impressed. "That guy has 100,000 Twitter followers!"

Even though I'm an outsider, it's still incredible to delve into this gaming world now and then. The flashing lights and all the dings, bonks and pops really envelop you. And of course, it's a blast to watch Ryan and Katie tear up these machines with their great scores.

I may not "play a mean pinball," but I'm super thankful for the chance to once again stretch out my "flipper fingers" and play with the fam.

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