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Your Game On Expo 2022 Insider's Guide — Tickets, Guests, and More

Celebrate the 30th anniversary of Mortal Kombat at Game On Expo 2022.
Celebrate the 30th anniversary of Mortal Kombat at Game On Expo 2022. Benjamin Leatherman
When the pandemic hit back in 2020, Game On Expo co-founder John Lester knew organizers would have to press pause on the popular event. More than two years later, he says they’re ready to grab their controllers and pick up where they left off.

“It’s definitely been a long time,” Lester tells Phoenix New Times. “We didn’t think it would be this long, though.”

The three-day gaming event returns to the Phoenix Convention Center from Friday, August 5, to Sunday, August 7. Lester says it will include all of its usual activities, including cosplay, vendors, appearances by voice actors, and (of course) plenty of arcade, pinball, and console games.

“It’s going to be bigger than [previous editions] and we’ll have more games than ever,” Lester says.

What else is in store for Game On Expo 2022? Check out the following guide to the event, which include info on admission costs, competitions, and other aspects of the event.

When and Where is Game On Expo 2022?

The three-day event runs from Friday, August 5, to Sunday, August 7, inside the South Building of the Phoenix Convention Center, 33 South Third Street. Hours are from 1 to 10 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

How Much is Admission?

Daily adult admission is $35 on Friday, $45 on Saturday, and $40 on Sunday. Weekend passes covering all three days are $55. Children’s admission is $15-$20 for ages 10 and under, and kids 2 and under are free.

Are There Age Limits?

Absolutely not. Game On Expo is a family-friendly event open to all ages.

What’s the Best Way to Get There?

Light rail. There are stations within walking distance from the convention center. Fares are $2 per ride or $4 for an all-day pass. Valley Metro also operates several “park-and-ride” lots throughout the Valley.

Where Can You Park?

If you must drive, street parking is available in downtown Phoenix for $1 to $1.50 per hour between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. each day. You can use the ParkMobile app to reserve and pay for a spot in advance. Several nearby parking garages and surface lots are also available. Prices range from $10 to $50 per vehicle, per day. More details can be found here.
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Cosplay inspired by video games (in this case Samus Aran from Metroid) is encouraged.
Benjamin Leatherman

What’s the Security and Prop Policy?

Security staff will conduct bag searches, patdowns, metal detector wandings, and prop checks on all attendees in the lobby of the South Building. There will also be certain restrictions on cosplay items you can bring to the event. Prop guns, anything resembling a firearm, or any bladed metal or wooden weapons (such as axes or daggers) won’t be allowed. Ditto for blunt weapons like bats or clubs made from hard plastic, wood, or metal, as well as whips, metal chains, paddles, and spikes.

What’s the Food and Drink Situation Like?

According to Game On’s organizers, outside food and drink will not be allowed into the event (with the exception of bottled water). Vending machines and a coffee stand in the lobby and concession stands in the main hall will sell fast-casual options like burgers, chicken fingers, and nachos. Downtown Phoenix also has a variety of bars and restaurants.

What About Water?

Security will allow personal bottles of water into the event.
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Old-school Nintendo cartridges for sale at a previous Game On Expo.
Benjamin Leatherman

Will There Be Vendors?

Of course. Hundreds of vendors will be available at this year’s expo, ranging from local used game stores to companies like Microsoft. As is the norm for any geek event, there will be an artist alley featuring a lineup of local creatives.

Who Are the Special Guests at This Year's Expo?

Voice actors and actresses like Steve Burton and George Newbern from Final Fantasy VII top the expo’s list of guests. Other gaming-related celebrities include Roger Craig Smith from Sonic the Hedgehog, David Kaye from Rachet & Clank, and Kira Buckland of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure fame. Mortal Kombat actors and martial artists Daniel Pesina and Ho-Sung Pak will also be in attendance to mark the 30th anniversary of the original arcade game. A complete list of special guests can be found here.
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Playing the arcade version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Benjamin Leatherman

What Games Will Be Available to Play?

When it comes to modern and indie gaming, more than 100 tables featuring the latest gaming consoles – including the PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox Series X – and high-end PC gaming rigs will be set up throughout the event. Phoenix-based indie game developers will also have their own area. As for classic arcade games and consoles, three rooms will be devoted to the consoles of yesteryear. Naturally, that means Nintendo Entertainment Systems will be in abundance, as well as more than a few Sega Genesis, Super Nintendos, Atari Jaguars, and original PlayStations. Several dozen arcade and pinball machines will be arranged in rows in the main hall, each set to free play mode.

What Will the E-Sports and Game Tournaments Be Like?

The expo will have extensive e-sports and competition areas devoted to the original Tetris, NFL Blitz, NBA Jam, Halo, Ms. Pac-Man, and Dr. Mario. Meanwhile, the Retro World Championships will take place with competitors playing a combination of classic games. The winner will get a custom wrestling-style championship belt. A full rundown of every tournament and competition at Game On Expo can be found here.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.