Ben Manu, 41, took his two kids on a trip through his childhood, by way of video games, on Saturday at the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo.
Space Invaders, Asteroids, Donkey Kong — they were all there, in the old-school machines that a generation of young people inserted endless quarters into at the video game arcades that once dotted Long Island and the country.
“I wanted to get them to relive the history I went through,” Manu said after his daughter, Jordan, 13, played Frogger, the classic 1981 game that was an arcade staple.
The third annual expo, which continues Sunday, features a mix of games, primarily from the 1970s through 1990s, some on arcade machines, others on home consoles.
This year the event moved to a larger space at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City from its previous location at a Hauppauge hotel, after it doubled in size to 2,000 attendees in 2016 from 1,000 in 2015, said Joel Albino, one of the expo organizers.
Some came to play just for fun, others tried to win one of 20 tournaments for individual games. New this year is the multigame, multi-system, two-day Retrothon competition.
Ben Manu, of Mineola, has played some of the new games on son Ryan’s Xbox One. But he’s not a fan.
“To be honest, I’m too old for it,” he said. “Too many buttons. The simplicity of the old stuff is better.”
Ryan, 8, and Jordan said it only took them a few seconds to pick up the point of Frogger: Guide your frog across a busy highway without it getting hit, and then navigate the amphibian down a danger-filled river onto an empty lily pad.
Ryan said it was fun, but he prefers the more complex modern games.
“There are more controllers and the graphics are better,” he said.
Gianmarco Ligammari of Massapequa said the numerous sequels of popular games like Call of Duty make them less interesting than the varied games he grew up with.
Ligammari, 27, had shopped the expo’s marketplace of old games, consoles and various novelties and came away with a Game Boy handheld console.
Ligammari also bought a Sega Genesis console primarily for the box, since he long ago lost track of the packaging for his functioning Sega Genesis at home. He plans to put the box on display once he buys a house.
“It’s nostalgia,” he said.
Richie Check, 51, who has gone by “Wiggly Check” most of his life, is determined to preserve the history behind these older games. The Easton, Pennsylvania, man, who spoke at the expo, is one of several hosts for the weekly “We Talk Games” podcast. Since 2014, the podcast has focused on lesser-known arcade games such as Ninja Clowns.
Check fondly remembers going to arcades as “a communal experience” in which players would crowd around machines and bond over their shared love of games.
“You’d meet people and bump into people, and it was loud — you’d hear all these bells going off,” he said. “It was a whole immersive environment.”