The latest SC3 Arcade Party took place on November 10, 2018, at the good old "Backyard" location in Claremont. We always consider the backyard events to be a kind of homecoming, a time to get back to the basics of what SC3 is all about: games, friends, food, and most importantly, fun. This event, perhaps even more than other recent backyard blowouts, really did feel like returning home. Things were a bit smaller and quieter... but we believe better.
The November 10 party was as much about what was not there as what was. If you've been reading the last few event recaps, then you've seen us write about the expanding trade area and the seemingly never-ending piles of gaming items on offer. We call it "trading" but it's become more about commerce over time. Game resellers ("flippers") are a real presence today in a way that they weren't just a few years ago. As we've stated many times, we have mixed feelings about it. After all, we're collectors; we want this stuff to be available. But SC3 is as much about celebrating the games – you know, having actual fun with them – as it is about simply acquiring them. We're never going to begrudge somebody for making a buck selling off a flea market find they don't want for themselves, but people coming to SC3 just to sell huge boxes of games for sale at eBay prices, while never actually playing anything? That's not really what we're all about.
So this time, we severely restricted the trade area and encouraged people to bring only the goods they could fit in a backpack. That kept away the flippers and resellers, and probably a handful of others. Overall our crowd was smaller than at recent events (about 150 people as opposed to 200+), but we view this a good thing. There was still a good-sized crowd, and the people that came were definitely there to play games and reconnect with old friends – exactly what makes SC3 events so special. What's more, the reduced trade area gave us more room to cram in additional consoles and vintage computers. Classic '80s computing platforms in particular had a larger presence this time around. In general, all the feedback we got on these changes was positive. Nobody seemed to miss the resellers. In the future we'll continue to walk the line between some active game trading and out-and-out commerce as best we can.
So there was less trading this time around, but thanks to Jay F. and contributions from other attendees, there was plenty of good stuff in the raffle. In addition to video games, SC3 raffles almost always contain some "retrogaming adjacent" stuff, and this was even more so the case this time around. Between vintage Care Bears, Dark Crystal lunch boxes, Lite-Brites and small CRT televisions, there was plenty to make any child of the '80s happy. No joke: the most coveted item this time around was an original Magnum P.I. TV tray. What can we say? Everybody digs that Tom Selleck 'stache. But naturally video games were covered too: piles of Atari 2600 carts, arcade boards and marquees, Pac-Man cups and plushes... the list went on. Big thanks to Jay for organizing the raffle!
As mentioned, the extra space allowed for even more consoles and monitors than usual. This event may have boasted the highest number of consoles ever at an SC3 event: by our count, 20. Vintage computers ranging from Apple II to a 486 running DOS games (Wolfenstein 3-D!) were well-represented, thanks to Jay and Robert B. Vintage consoles ran the gamut from Atari 2600 through the Nintendo Wii, and there were two Sega Saturns... because why not? Thanks to William D. for bringing his incredible NeoGeo setup again. Our friends from Retro City Festival hosted a miniature NES World Championship, using the modified contest game ROM from back in 1990. (Look for SC3 to have a presence again at Retro City 2019, in January!)
Of course, classic arcade coin-ops were there too. At this point it's hard to remember which machines are making their SC3 debut, but this time around we had Mouse Trap and Pac-Land, which haven't been the most commonly seen. Of special note was the cocktail Gyruss machine, which appeared courtesy of long-time SC3 attendee and Gyruss expert Paul S., who was celebrating his birthday during the event. Unbeknownst to Paul, his wife had conspired with his good friend Webster to surprise him at the event with a Gyruss-themed cake. Paul was obviously touched, as were the rest of us. It was a sweet moment, the kind of thing that you don't ordinarily see outside of SC3 events.
This kind of moment sums up what SC3 is, and why we keep hosting it. It's friends and family bonding over their shared love of video games. That's what it's all about: the collecting and the commerce... all that has its place but in the end it's all about having fun with it, together. At each party we host, we're reminded of how much people enjoy our events and we're gratified that so many of you keep coming back. That was especially true this time around. Thanks to Clark P., David H., Sean B. and Joe O. for setting up and tearing down; Jay F. for bringing arcade games and the raffle; Robert B. for bringing the SX-64; Paul S. for Gyruss; Steve T. for donating sodas and waters; Camille R. for bringing pizzas; Lorraine B. and Ariana H. for working concessions; William D. for bringing the NeoGeo; and Ariana and Mercedes for doing the pizza runs! And of course, thanks to all our attendees!
If you're going to Retro City Festival (which you should), come by and check out SC3's table. The event will be held January 5th and 6th at the Fairplex in Pomona – not far at all from where the backyard party took place. This is only Retro City's second year, but they've already made plans to expand their attractions. It'll be a great show!
The date for SC3's spring event is yet to be announced. With the closing of Arcade 2084, we're scouting for a new location. We have a couple leads but nothing definite as of yet. Keep an eye on this site and our Facebook page for details. And as always, keep gaming!