Following the success of their last event, AFKxp Tech+Games hosted the FEB Video Game Swaps at their location in Downtown Campbell, California (second floor of LvL UP). This was the perfect opportunity to look for some retro games and accessories while mingling in a safe environment (despite the pandemic).
With the ongoing pandemic, AFKxp took all the necessary precautions to ensure everyone’s safety. Floor had only four vendors (not counting The Retro Fix) while only a small number of people (between 10 to 12) were allowed in the venue. There was also hand sanitizers placed at the entrance and on most tables. Everyone was required to wear a mask at all times and they had to have their temperature taken at the door. Guests had a 45min time limit to allow everyone the chance to browse and shop. It was a bit of a strange experience, but a welcome one to ensure everyone’s safety.
Pokémon Go Raids
Those who had to wait could kill time with a game of Pokémon Go. With several gyms in the Downtown Campbell area, this was one of the best times to gather a few trainers to participate in major raids (especially since the event took place during the Pokémon Day celebration). During the weekends, I participated in a raid that allowed us to capture a Lapras, Articuno and Snorlax.
The event attracted a diverse crowd of shoppers who were brought together by their passion for retro games. Some were parents who wanted to introduce their kids to the classics or still had the Nintendo Wii. Others either were raised on, or are fans of retro gaming and wanted to build up their collection. There was also a good number of game developers (mostly from the indie scene) who were also browsing around.
Everyone also had a simple reasons to come, be it to shop or to mingle with other like minded enthusiasts. With conventions having been cancelled, FEB Video Game Swaps was the closest thing to an event many had seen in a year. While small; it was a nice environment to meet new friends and talk about retro games in-person (while following safety guidelines).
FEB Video Game Swaps brought a number of independent sellers and small vendors from all over the Bay Area. Many of them were exclusively focused on selling retro games, consoles and accessories. Some would sell toys and collectables along with fan art. With the absence of fan conventions, many saw this event as one of the best opportunities.
The Retro Fix is a retailer located on the same floor as AFKxp. From PlayStation to the NES, they have one of the largest inventory of retro games and accessories. They were open for normal business during the entire Game Swaps weekend.
Plush Rush is a vendor that specializes in retro games along with collectable merchandise that are imported from Japan. They have been active among the Bay Area’s convention scene for two years but the pandemic has slowed down their business. They were at the Swap Meet on February 20th and the 21st.
Jerod Pimentel is an independent merchant who has been selling and trading games for several years. His booth had a variety of games from different console generations along with art books and gaming accessories. He does it for fun and as a chance to meet others who have a passion for classic games.
Yojambo’s Chibi Town is an art vendor that specializes in creating custom chibi style art. Currently the most highly requested projects work have been anything involving Baby Yoda and Demon Slayer. Normally they could be seen at various fan conventions and art shows but that has slowed down due to the pandemic. They were present on February 21st.
Alex Elkins is an independent merchant who likes to sell retro games and accessories as a hobby. Most of his inventory from his own collection that he wants to part ways with while also passing it on to someone who will appreciate it more. He mostly sells online (through numerous Facebook groups) but prefers to come to the swap meets. For him, it’s more about getting out and meeting others who also enjoy classic games. His booth was available on February 27th.
Tiger’s Tangibles is a small retailer that has had a presence in the Bay Area convention and swap meet scene for 10 years. They specialize in the sale of anime and video game collectables that have been imported from Japan. This includes figurines, scrolls, and posters (with the most popular being Persona and Fire Emblem merchandise).
Manuel Ramos an independent merchant whose booth was only available on February 28th. He has been gamer his entire life while selling retro games for over 13 years. His inventory had a verity of games, guidebooks, accessories and merchandise. Selling retro games has been something he does for fun but has been doing it online. It’s only recently that he has been coming to swap meets, which he prefers because of the personal connections.
Garrett Ritchie is an independent merchant who was participating in his first ever swap meet. Having come across a treasure trove of retro games from a storage auction, he was advised by a friend to sell it at this event. Despite being his first time, he fells it has been very successful. He also noted that the best part was meeting new people who are also interested in his inventory. He was only present on February 28th.
No story about going to a game swap is ever complete without going over what you walked away with. I walked into the game swap with $150 in cash and on the hunt for any games that interested.
Here is a list of everything I bought and the price tag:
- Gun (PS2) for $8
- Zone of the Enders (PS2) for $8
- The Getaway (PS2) for $5
- Dead to Rights (PS2) for $5
- God of War (PS4) for $5
- 24: The Game (PS2) for $5
- 007: Everything or Nothing (PS2) for $5
- Shadow of the Colossus (PS2) for $12
- Xenosaga Episode I (PS2) for $25
I walked in with no set shopping plans but left with some great classics while having plenty of change left over. At the same time, I also meet some interesting folks who had a story to tell or recommendation to share. Overall; the FEB Video Game Swaps were eventful despite the pandemic and the short time span. Hopefully this is a sign of brighter days to come, and a time where conventions and industry events can safely happen in full swing once again.