This weekend and next weekend figure prominently in the holy cycle of Seattle gamer holidays: the NW Pinball and Arcade Show is happening right now through Sunday at Seattle Center, and the Seattle Retro Gaming Expo happens next Saturday and Sunday, 6/16–17, at the Bellevue Red Lion. (Boo to Bellevue, but yay to having twice as much space—last year at Hotel Deca was ridiculously if gratifyingly packed.)
The NW Pinball and Arcade Show gives you infinite freeplay on over 100 pinball machines and over 100 classic arcade games, including some seriously obscure titles—and in past years, the laidback, PAX-ian community vibe has meant that people are cool about not hogging machines. A one-day pass is $20, and time and money well spent (especially if you stay until they close at midnight).
What the NW Pinball and Arcade Show is for stand-up machines, the Seattle Retro Gaming Expo is for old-school consoles. In the freeplay area, you can play every US-licensed SNES and N64 game ever made—and they've also got tournaments, a big vendor area, and cool weird shit like a Steel Battalion War Room (for eight players, each on their own 40-button mech controller) and a fighting game tournament in which the winners go on to compete in Vegas. If you're planning to buy stuff in the vendor hall, today is the last day for SRGE pre-registration, which lets you get in an hour early to hunt for deals.
The Stranger Testing Department is Rob Lightner and Paul Hughes.