Downtown Phoenix's ZapCon Expands to Include Retro Gaming Documentaries and a Performance By The Minibosses
ZapCon in leveling up. Organizers of the two-day classic arcade and pinball gaming event taking place next month in downtown Phoenix recently announced that they're expanding the scope of the event to include numerous game-related activities that don't involve mashing buttons.
According to Wes Cleveland, who's helping put on ZapCon along with fellow local old-school joystick-head Zack Johnson, attendees will be able to screen several documentaries devoted to retro gaming, as well as attend workshops and discussions covering repair, restoration, and maintenance of pinball machines.
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Currently, plans are afoot to screen four different documentaries during ZapCon -- which goes down on Saturday, April 6, and Sunday, April 7, at the Renaissance Phoenix Hotel. The lineup includes High Score, a 2006 film by NYU grad Jeremy Mack concerning die-hard gamers who collect retro arcade games, and Tilt: The Battle to Save Pinball, about the lengthy history of said coin-operated machines, the "near-lost art of pinball design," and how its industry has vastly diminished into near-obscurity.
"[Pinball games], I would say, are not as rare as arcade games. They're still making them these days and there's only one major manufacturer making 'em, but there are a couple mom-and-pop shops out there are still putting them out," Cleveland says. "But as far as classic arcade-style [game] industry, that's done. You can't compete with the home console market, so there really isn't any incentive to make 'em like they used to."
Such subject matter is at the heart of Jeff Von Ward's 98-minute doc The Space Invaders: In Search of Lost Time, which covers the rise and fall of the arcade gaming world from a billion-dollar trade in the 1980s to a niche hobby populated by enthusiasts and collectors of quarter-munchers.
In other words, the same sort of folks that will be both attending ZapCon and bringing their games to the event.