Gamers from across the U.S. came to experience the Cleveland Gaming Classic convention, Sept. 22-24, at the I-X center, a festival of video games, collectibles, cosplay, competitions, and fun for kids of all ages.
This year, there were more arcade cabinets and retro games scattered throughout the convention center for those looking to experience what gaming was like before the 2000s and for those looking to find consoles from their childhood.
The event first started, in 2010, when Tom Jenkins, the founder of the convention, and a few friends started playing in their basement. Today, the convention hosts thousands of people.
In 2023, fans were able to go for three days to see one of the largest Teco Bowl Tournaments and the voices behind people's favorite games such as Jeff Steitzer.
The convention also hosted new games from indie developers, encouraging people to try these brand new games for the first time.
"One of my college professors said this to me 'Find a way to use your weakness as a strength,'" said Dakota DeMaegd, the president of Sunset Arctic Games. “I struggled trying to make a realistic 3D environment, so using a mixture of two ideas I put together I decided to make a game with no lighting and to make it more unique I added echolocation in order to make my game.”
Dakota’s current game, Echo Blade, is still being updated but can currently be played on every current console and PC.
The event also included food trucks with long lines of people waiting to have a slice of pizza or a chicken sandwich. Vendors were selling their own art and video games, with prices ranging from a few dollars to five hundred dollars for rare games.
Four voice actors who have done work in many games, anime, cartoons and live-action shows had a Q&A session with guests on the event's opening Saturday.
"Some of my first experiences with fans were amazing… I never thought my voice acting would have such a strong effect on anybody,” said Jeff Steitzer, the voice actor of God from the Halo series. “A young man came up to me and said that he was abused as a child and playing Halo and hearing my voice was what kept him going, and I thought, 'Damn, that’s extraordinary.'"
After the Q&A session, the convention ended on its opening day with a cosplay contest with adults, teenagers and children competing in their own age groups.
The Cleveland Gaming Classic Convention will return next year to the I-X center on Sept. 22, 2024.