NERG 2016

This weekend saw the 4th annual North East Retro-Gamers event in Gateshead (NERG for short) — basically an excuse for fans of retrogaming to gather in a very big room for 2 days, play old games, and buy gaming memorabilia at over-inflated prices.

This was the 2nd NERG that I’ve attended. If you squint carefully, you can just about spot me in this picture. Honest 😉

(Hint: I’m wearing a leather jacket, playing Pengo, and standing next to a blonde girl playing Millipede).

It’s a fun event, and it’s great to see, hear and smell(!?) all the old arcade cabs, and to get to play some non-virtual pinball machines 🙂

My personal highlights for this year included:

Bride of Pinbot! My all-time favourite pinball machine, access to which I was so cruelly denied at last year’s Game On 2.0 exhibition! … actually, it was a bit of a bittersweet re-union, as this particular machine was starting to show it’s age a bit, and didn’t play much like they used to back in the day. No fault of the owner, I’m sure… just a sad reminder that age gets us all, eventually 🙁

The event was held in a different venue this year — Gateshead Leisure Centre. Although it’s spatially very similar to the usual venue (a big hall at Gateshead Stadium), one of the things that the organisers hadn’t anticipated was the fact that the roof at _this_ venue has large skylights in it. As you can see from the photo, this caused a bit of a glare on the Pinball and cocktail arcade cabinets. Fortunately, next year the event will be back at the Stadium again.

TRON … I’ve been wanting to play this oldie again for a LONG time. (The cabinet was also present at NERG 2015, but out of service when I visited).TRON has a mechanically-unusual joystick with high-resistance diagonals, which makes it difficult to play the game properly under emulation (there are entire internet forums devoted to trying to hack a TRON stick using modern components!), so it was interesting to get my hands on the real thing.

One corner of the room was devoted to Williams cocktail cabinets… including StarGate, Robotron 2084, and this Joust cabinet. I’ve never seen one of these in the flesh before; it’s unique amongst cocktails as both players have to sit on the same side of the machine. Fans of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One might remember the hint to sit on the left 😉

All in all, it was an enjoyable day of gaming; lots to do, and I bumped into a lot of people I knew during the course of the day. My only criticism would be that _some_ machines (particularly the more popular pinballs) were very difficult to get a game on. There aren’t any formal rules on how long you can spend on a particular game (everything is free play), and _some_ players are a bit more courteous about giving up a machine than others are. And some people are just outright arseholes; they’ll see you’re waiting, and then just blatantly coin up *another* 4-player game on a pinball, and proceed to play all 4 parts themselves. Grrr!

As the venue gets busier, the situation gets worse … so try to get in any must-plays early on. (It might be nice if the organisers would put up some kind of guidelines on expected etiquette… just for the benefit of the sociopaths in attendance).

At least there was always a Defender cabinet or two standing free throughout the day, so I always had something to fall back on. Some people have _no_ taste in games. Luckily 😉

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