Break the Con Down: SouthEast Game Exchange
Convention season is upon us! If you’re like me, you go to a few conventions a year and are always on the lookout to add more to the rotation and want to know which ones to avoid. It’s always the worst to travel out of the way, to attend a convention, only to find out that it doesn’t necessarily align with your interests or no one else showed up! On the flip side, almost nothing feels better than having a fantastic time making new friends and having an awesome time sharing the experience and your passions with others!
What’s in a breakdown?
For a Break the Con Down, we look at five distinct ideas that should help you determine whether or not a convention would be a great fit for you and your friends. Those five sections are Basic information (this includes stuff like location, cost, discounts available), what to do (Panels, things to do with friends, food options), What can I buy? (What kind of vendors can you except, are there vendors?), Who’s There (special guests, specialized vendors), and Don’t call this a comeback (growth, is it worth coming back to?).
Now let’s talk a look at a convention I went to at the end of last year, the best convention you haven’t heard about, Southeast Game Exchange.
If you’re an avid reader of Break the Con Down this one is gonna be a little different. I wanted to highlight and review my favorite convention experience of last year. So much so, that I felt compelled to give it the honor of being the first Break the Con Down review of this year! It deserves the spotlight. For me, the experience was so much fun, I don’t think you should risk missing it this year.
Southeast Game Exchange takes place in Greenville, South Carolina. This year the event will be held at the Greenville convention center on August 8th and 9th, and last year took place on the 24th and 25th . Weekend and Day passes are available for Saturday and Sunday. This was one of the most reasonably priced events I have ever been to. It was 15 dollars for a TWO DAY pass, if you ordered ahead online. A day pass was only 10 dollars. This event is geared toward video gamers, gamers, and video game collectors. The convention offers discounts through a Hilton group rate for hotels. The Hilton has a lobby bar which makes it a great way to unwind after the convention. Convention hours are between 10am and 4pm both days. Those hours give you plenty of time to enjoy the quaint nightlife of Greenville, by finding one of local restaurants to have a nice dinner or enjoying the company of friends at one of the many pubs in the area.
What to Do
You can always find something at Southeast Game Exchange to stay busy. You can chat with one of the many vendors, collectors, or gamers at the event, grab at quick concession for one of the small concession stands, attend panels, play in a variety of different tournaments, or hang out and try to set a high score in the free play arcade area. With the amount of things to do, you’ll often find yourself running out of time trying to do everything that you want to do.
What can I buy?
Video games! Southeast Game Exchange has a ton of video game vendors. Anywhere from video game stores to collectors selling off a part of their collection. If there was a certain game or gaming item you were looking for, you’re going to find it. I think the most important thing to mention here is the fair pricing of items. An issue that some conventions have, “convention pricing” where items are more expensive than they would be online or even in traditional retail space. The folks that organize Southeast Game Exchange work really hard on making sure their attendees pay fair prices. Outside of video game vendors, there are tabletop gaming items available for purchase, and various artists. One of highlights were some really awesome prints!
For me, one of the coolest things about Southeast Game Exchange is the sense of community. I feel their special guests truly capture that idea. Many of their guests last year are members of the retro gaming community on Youtube. Folks like Jluv 81, Your Player 2, Tyler from Generation Gap Gaming, (ya boy) T Belly, MegaDan 29, Nes Complex, Die Hard Gamer Bros, Universe Retro, Nes Addict, Russ Lyman, Nostalgic Numbnuts, Linda aka the Gamergirl, 8 bit Eric, Nintenjoe25, CaptNRetro, one half of the Game Chasers, Jay, and Riff from Pixel Game Squad. Every single one of these guests truly work on promoting positivity, building a sense of togetherness and community, and highlighting how their love of retro gaming and pop culture can bring people together. Many of these guests also had very high quality panels and shared their vast knowledge on a variety of subjects with convention attendees.
Don’t call it a comeback
I’ve attended Southeast Game Exchange for the past two years, and so far each year seems bigger than the last. Each year, I meet new collectors, make new friends, and celebrate good times with old ones. I truly believe that Southeast Gaming Exchange is one of the best retro video game conventions in the southeast. I had a blast last year when I attended and I’m excited to attend this year. Austin Bell and his staff strive to make sure everyone feels welcome, aiming to infuse each person in attendance with their own kindness and friendliness to create a sense of community.
At the beginning of this Break the Con Down, I said that Southeast Game Exchange is the best convention you’ve haven’t heard about. Now, that you know about it, I hope it’s now the best convention you haven’t attended yet. And, I hope that I can change that. I urge you to attend this year. You will not regret it.
Check them out: southeastgameexchange.com
When he’s not digging through bins at the local flea market, Donald Paris is a contributing editor for The NES Page. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte in 2015, and his non-gaming-related work has appeared in several literary journals. His gaming-related work can also be found on East Coast Games. He spends most of his time dissecting video games. All while looking for the next exciting piece of video game history. He is also a graduate fellow of The Watering Hole