Nerd Culture

ZapCon 2016: Dates Announced for Arcade and Pinball Convention in Mesa

Old-school video gamers of the Valley, please rip yourself away from Super Mario Maker for a moment and listen up. We've got some good news for you: the organizers of ZapCon recently revealed the dates for next year's edition of the popular local retro arcade and pinball convention.

Earlier this week, Zapcon co-founder Wes Cleveland announced on Facebook that the 2016 version of the weekend-long event, which has been dubbed ZapCon IV, will take place on Saturday, April 16, and Sunday, April 17.

And just like this year's event, it will happen at the Mesa Convention Center and feature hundreds of classic arcade and pinball titles, including many rarities, oddities, and old-school titles loaned out from the personal stashes of local collectors for the weekend.

That will likely include many games from the collections of Mike Lovato and Steve Thomas, the co-owners of StarFighters Arcade in Mesa who have either attended or been involved with ZapCon since its inception in 2012. This year, Lovato says, they brought around a dozen of their games to the event, including 1983's Spy Hunter, and plan to do so again at ZapCon IV.

“It's definitely one of the most fun and unique gaming events in the Valley and we really look forward to it every year,” he says.

They aren't the only ZapCon regulars or local nerds who were geeked out by news of next year's dates. Michael Eric Setzer of Chandler, who likely echoed the sentiments of many in his Facebook reply to the announcement.

“HOT DAMN! CAN'T WAIT!” he wrote.

Cleveland also revealed the official ZapCon logo for next year's event, which will appear on attendee badges and other convention-related ephemera. And just like the logos of the first three versions of ZapCon, which were inspired by such classics as Zaxxon and Tron, it references a much-beloved arcade title from the '80s: specifically, Konami's legendary 1987 run-and-gun game Contra.

Needless to say, ZapCon fans like were jazzed about it, too. Local geek Nate Squeeler, for instance, expressed his excitement for next year's logo on Facebook.

“OMG...I hope that is the shirt design for 2016!” Squeeler wrote. 
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.