I had the pleasure yesterday of attending Play Margate, a gaming and retro-gaming event organised by @ReplayEvents.

The event was a scaled down version of the bigger Play events in Blackpool and Manchester, but it still had a very good amount of games and things to do. The video games section was the largest area, with rows upon rows of X-Box and PS3/4s playing a whole variety of games. I really liked how they had some areas specifically focusing on some bigger games like Sonic, or Mario or Street Fighter where they had various versions of those games from over the years next to each other on different machines. That was a nice touch. There was a dedicated Minecraft area too. The retro machines were the ones that caught my eye of course and they had the usual range of classic machines that you would hope to see; ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, BBC Micro, Colecovision, Intellivision, Binatone, Vectrex, Amstrad, Atari ST, NES, SNES, Master System, Mega Drive etc. There may have been a PC Engine and TurboGrafx too, I can’t remember. What was great to see was some children enjoying playing these ‘legacy machines’ and not just the ‘old’ people like myself!



Binatone Pong

ZX Spectrum

Atari ST

The arcade section was the bit I was most excited about but was perhaps the most disappointing. They didn’t have the number of arcade cabinets that you get at the bigger events, with only about 16 machines represented. And only a few of the games I would classify as ‘big guns’. Games they had included Pac-Man, Galaxian, Gorf, Karate Champ, Hunchback, Point Blank, Daytona stand-up, Quartet, Defender and I think a Space Invaders. They also had Jon Stoodley attempting a perfect freehand game of Pac-Man. He was in the corner in a roped-off section with a camera trained on his screen. I believe he has been attempting this perfect game for 5 years and travelling round the events hoping to pull it off live. And the good news is that he did it at Play Margate! He did it in 6 hours 25 mins which is no mean feat! Congratulations Jon!

Upstairs there was the other hall which had some quirky things like the giant size Game Boys and giant Atari joystick which were pretty cool. They also do the fun Fruitcade which I had heard about from previous events. This is where they have connected up pieces of fruit to wires and you can control Pac-Man just by touching the pieces of fruit corresponding to the up, down, left or right control. Pretty cool concept, and lots of fun to play. All these are organised by the Video Game Carnival. I think it was them who also had 4 Tomytronics available for use, which always floats my boat. I love those things.


Then there were several stalls with sellers who were selling anything from very cool artwork and gaming related crafts through to the people selling retro games and hardware. One of the latter was my good mate Ally Hogg aka The RetroHunter. This was Ally’s first foray into being behind the other side of the desk and it was great to see him being able to share and sell the collection that he has worked so hard to amass over the last few years. Seriously, check out his imminent website and his Twitter handle if you want to find out more. A more honourable salesman you will not find.

It was also great to meet Darren from ABeadsCStart for the first time. I’d heard lots about Darren from his occassional appearances on the Retro Asylum podcast and his new appearances on Andy Godoy’s RGDS podcast, and just seeing loads of pics of his work over the internet. Darren does some really cool gaming pixel art using beads and you should check out his work at his Facebook, Etsy and Twitter pages. I’m thinking of commissioning him to do me a ZX Spectrum character or perhaps one from Street Fighter 2. Just not sure what yet.

And speaking of the Retro Asylum podcast it was great as ever to see Dean Swain and Paul Davies, part of the Retro Asylum team that have taken the podcast to new heights of being shortlisted for the UK Podcasting Awards. Always great to meet these guys. There’s a cool vibe around the Essex retro gaming scene right now and it’s great to be a small part of it.

I took the wife and kids with me and made it a day out in Margate and it worked out very well. The sun was out in force and after a few hours at Play Margate we went to the newly refurbished, historical Dreamland Pleasure Park, which I would heartily recommend, as well as going down to play on the beach. All in all a great day and I hope to back again next year.