Walking into the 4th Brisbane Video Game and Pop Culture Market, I was expecting to see a lot of cool retro consoles and games. Pretty safe to say I was not disappointed (as you can see from the image gallery directly below). From ‘modded’ Xbox consoles, to Hori Fight Sticks, Comics, Artwork and Famicom games, I even picked up an NTSC Battlezone cart for a Nintendo 64 which I don’t yet have in my collection. What I truly did not expect to find however, was a small group of passionate, interesting, friendly and really chill people, that are the reason this fantastic little market exists.
The last time I stepped foot in the gorgeous, quaint beer garden out the back of Shady Palms was back in July. I took a few photos, looked at a few things, then headed on my way. This time around I spent the vast majority of my time at the event talking to the stallholders about their wares. Reminiscing about games and comics from our past, talking about our lives and how gaming became a part of who we are. And as cool as grabbing a bargain on a Sega Dreamcast might be, these conversations and the people having them, are what these small but heartfelt markets are really all about.
The organiser of the event is an interesting, intelligent man and just an all-round top fucking bloke. Friendly and easy to talk to, I watched him on more than one occasion, talk a prospective buyer OUT of purchasing an item that would have made him money, because he wasn’t certain about an answer to a question he was asked about the unit. I also watched as he heavily undercut himself selling a handheld console to a young would-be gamer. Which he later explained by stating the importance of handing down these cherished items to a new generation, so they could in turn be cherished once more, allowing the cycle of growing up loving video games to continue. It is easy to see the passion he has for things that he cares about, a trait that I find lacking, in today’s swathe of retro collectors and sellers.
It was also jaw dropping to find out that the majority of the kit on sale was a part of his personal collection! And that amassing said collection involved trips to places like Japan and Bali. Where he would walk from store to stall, buying up consoles and games, and ferrying them back to Australia, sometimes 70 kilos at a time. I don’t think I am alone in thinking that would make a fucking rad holiday. Jetting off to Japan, with a fat stack of cash and a week to find the rarest gaming memorabilia imaginable. My hands are shaking just thinking about it.
Another reason I feel the market has such a cool vibe, is thanks in part to the 8-bit chip tune tracks that I caught several people bopping their heads, or secretly dancing to throughout the day. The bloops and blips that seem to bounce and dip their way through the air really set a nostalgic tone and I was amazed when I saw that the music, was actually being created and played out of a couple of ‘modded’ Gameboys! The composer of the tracks, Jamie, is another rad dude who wears his love for videogames on his sleeve, and is himself, an indie developer, who recently released a game on both Android and iPhone through his studio Aisjam. (Links to his stuff are below) Throughout the day, I was lucky enough to speak to Jamie at length about what it means to be a small developer in the Brisbane gaming community and the trials and tribulations that exist when you give not just your spare-time, but your life, to the pursuit of both playing and creating interesting gaming experiences. We spoke about the creation of music, raspberry pi’s and growing up with gaming in our lives, it’s also very likely that he will be creating an intro to our weekly podcast in the near future! An outcome that I never expected from attending a market in a beer garden.
A small but albeit very welcome addition to the day came in the presence of a cosplay booth. An enthusiastic and friendly female Link stood by a stack of calendars for sale that featured some of Brisbane’s best and most well-known cosplayers. It also warmed my heart to watch the ‘wow’ expressions on kids’ faces as they turned the corner into the market, upon seeing an immediately recognisable figure from gaming standing in front of them. I’d really like to see their presence at the next market, and would like Ultra Super Mega to break into the local (and wider) cosplay scene in general, as the effort and work that goes into a lot of these costumes is an art form I respect greatly.
Overall, the 4th Video Game and Pop Culture market was a little smaller than last time. But what it lost in size, it gained in heart and character. I am so thankful that I was given the chance to connect with these awesome people and talk about a subject that we all adore. Our incredibly varied backgrounds and ways we stay within the gaming community speak volumes to how far the community has come. From uni kids, to world famous dj’s, the full-time indie devs to the dad gamers and hobbyists, video games speak to everyone. And in turn, everyone can, and should, speak about them in return. Share their experiences, what they love and what they hate. How they got into it and how it impacts their life. If the 5th Video Game and Pop Culture Market is bigger again, that is fantastic and I hope it will be! (I’m even looking at having a stall at the next one) But just remember the real reason you walked into Shady Palms in the first place, you are passionate about gaming. Share that passion. Who knows who you might meet.