Break the Con Down: Southeast Game Exchange
With Covid-19 on the ropes and a return to normalcy seemingly over the horizon, I feel safe to say: Convention season is back!
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 an 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, and 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 attended last year, Southeast Game Exchange.
Southeast Game Exchange is currently scheduled for July 9th-10th of 2022 in Greenville, South Carolina. This year is going to be held at the Greenville convention center. Previously, due to growth of the event, the convention moved to its current home.
A pass for the event last year, was around 20 dollars for an entire weekend, and looks like this year will be about the same price point, continuing this conventions trend of being one of the best valued events for video game collectors in the southeast. Even for vendors the event is an incredible value, with vendors spots starting as low as 120 dollars for someone to come and set up to buy, sell, or trade video game and video game related items.
These spots generally go fast, so reach out soon if you’re interested in one! S.E.G.E often partners with local hotels as well for reduced room rates for convention goers. The convention operates between 10am-4pm on both convention days leaving you plenty of time to enjoy the nightlife in Greenville, either with your travel party or other convention goers you met at the event. Or, get your late night Mario Kart Double Dash on with friends!
What to do?
When I asked myself this question every year before, I always mention the free-play arcade, the card game tournaments, the panels, and of course buying games. Last year, was no different with those offerings, and looks like this year will offer the same. But, as I attended last year and reflect on my experiences, I realized that it was something more to those activates than the action of participating in them. They all underscored the best part of annual event, the community. Whether it’s playing an arcade game with a friend or even buying an item from a vendor, the sense of community was strong throughout the event.
One moment that springs to mind was when I finally purchased a Nintendo Virtual Boy, an item that has alluded me since a 10 minute play session in a Sears outlet store in 1996. Not only was I able to get an item I had been wanting for a very long time, I was able to support a fellow video game collector selling his collection to welcome the birth of his new child. So many items at S.E.G.E. have their own story that builds on that sense of community, be it an arcade game, and item for sale or a card game, an attendee will be able to participate in that sense of community.
What can I buy?
Video games! One of my favorite things about Southeast Games Exchange is the sheer amount of cool video game items for sale. If there is a game you’re looking for or a gaming system, there is good chance you’ll find it at S.E.G.E. The unique thing about this event is the majority of the video game vendors are collectors thinning down collections, trading for their holy grail items or changing hobbies all together. There are also stores, artists, and video game developers selling items too. The prices at this event tend to be some of the best prices I’ve seen around, and there is a high likelihood of getting fantastic deal on those items you’ve had your heart set on.
As I mentioned earlier, the community is the heart of this convention, and the guests invited to Southeast Game Exchange are no different. Special guests last year included, Retro Rick, Jake Randall, 8-Bit Eric, John Riggs, Phoenix Resale, Nescomplex, ZapCristal, Do you nerd, Pixel Game Squad, Russ Lyman, Roxolid Productions, Mr. Wright Way, Jluv 81, Universe Retro, and Generation Gap Gaming to name a few of the Youtube guests. Other Guest included the voice of Bowser, Kenny James, and Ed Annuziata, the creator of Echo the Dolphin and many other games that appeared on the Sega Genesis.
The one thing all the guests had in common was the importance of building community. It was even evident in many of the panels the special guests hosted like Women in Retro Gaming, How to find a PS5 or Xbox Series X, and Game Hunting Tips and Tricks. Many of the panels not only delivered valuable information to convention attendees, but also allowed everyone to share their passions and add to the sense of community.
Don’t Call it a Comeback
The community that Austin Bell and his staff have built make this event. I highly encourage everyone reading this to go and check out his event. I believe nothing is more meaningful after years of isolation and being physically separated from others, to come together and share a sense of passion with others. And, I fully believe that Southeast Game Exchange is still consistently one of the best conventions that truly captures that heart and sense of community. I fully recommend to every to attend Southeast Game Exchange. This is an event you cannot miss.
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