Nerd Culture

Game On Expo 2017 Is Coming to Downtown Phoenix

Playing the original Super Mario Bros. at last year's Game On Expo.
Playing the original Super Mario Bros. at last year's Game On Expo. Benjamin Leatherman
The Game On Expo is headed through the warp zone to a brand-new home. Organizers of the annual video-game-themed geek extravaganza announced recently that they’re moving it across the Valley to bigger digs at the Phoenix Convention Center starting with this year’s event.

And according to co-founder John Lester it’s all because the expo is growing faster than Mario after eating a red and yellow mushroom.

“We had the first two at the Mesa Convention Center and had tremendous response,” Lester says.

As a matter of fact, he says, Game On Expo doubled in size during its first two years. According to Lester, the debut edition in 2015 boasted a unique attendance of 3,000-plus people while the follow-up edition last year featured more than 7,000 people flocking to the Mesa Convention Center and the adjacent Phoenix Mesa Marriott hotel.

Lester and other Expo organizers ares expecting an even bigger crowd at Game On Expo 2017, which takes place from Friday, August 11, to Sunday, August 13, which he says necessitated the move.

“We felt like if we were to do it again in Mesa, it would've been kind of too cramped for us,” he says. “So it felt like the next step was to take it to downtown Phoenix. There really wasn't too much room to grow. We only want to make it bigger and better."

There’s plenty of that at the Phoenix Convention Center, however, specifically the facility’s 50,000 square-foot South Hall, which will host the Expo this summer.

click to enlarge A Game On Expo attendee jams out on the Guitar Hero arcade edition at last year's event. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
A Game On Expo attendee jams out on the Guitar Hero arcade edition at last year's event.
Benjamin Leatherman
But while the location may have changed, pretty much everything else about the event will remain the same. Lester says that Game On Expo 2017 will offer the same mix of analog and electronic games – ranging from arcades and consoles to RPGs and tabletop-style pursuits – as well as programming and special guests related to gaming culture. They’ll even bring back the popular concert series, which featured bands and musicians of a gaming bent.

The difference being is that everything will be under one roof, as opposed to being scattered across two neighboring buildings.

"It's going to be a lot like what we did last year as far as programming goes, but it's going to be a lot more centrally located, which is great,” Lester says. “Some of the feedback we received was about how we had the vendor hall in the convention center while all the other stuff was over in the Marriott, which was kind of drawing [attention] away from the vendors a little bit. So it's nice to have everything together under one roof."

And if you’re wondering what else is on tap for 2017, such as which guests will be appearing, Lester says to stay tuned.

“We're still working on guest announcements and other things,” he says.

Game On Expo 2017 will take place from Friday, August 11, to Sunday, August 13, at the Phoenix Convention Center.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.