We could say that the show itself much like the Midwest Gaming Classic,spawn from off the Atari Jagfest Festival stand alone shows(2002 for MGC and VGS in 2003) but the true orignal to how VGS got its start was when a local video game enthusiast, Jim Goebel(known as Inky on AtariAge forums),posted an idea about having a small video gaming gathering in Chicago land back in 2003. And I offered to help find a location for it. it was supposed to be for gamer’s only and we started to add vendors. after looking into few spots like a college off campus site and a hotel that wasn’t worth it,we finally found a nice location at Heron point convention center in Lombard,IL.
The first few years where shaky at best with low attendance and not many vendors but we keep going because the attendees who came enjoyed it. In 2006, we hit a big hole taking a loss bigger then the previous shows,so we decided stop for one year and reset for 2008,that was the year we started having guest like Walter Day,Tim Mcvey and Todd Rodgers. And we starting regain our composer. In 2009 Todd Freidman signed on as the show’s Co-Promoter. 2010 We added TurboFest tournaments to mix along with The Atari Jaguar Fest tournaments.(both have continued, while Jagfest tournaments have stopped we still try to keep the spirit going, later we added Harmony games for the 2600 and Paul Zmmerman’s AtariMania started with 2016 show)
We stayed at Heron Point until 2014,that when we’re told, that due to a management split between the hotel(Comfort inn Lombard) and the people at Heron Point,that starting 2015 they won’t allow outside events at the Heron point.
2015 was what I called the show that almost didn’t happen for the following reasons:
- we started looking for new venues right after 2014 and we couldn’t really get one
- by the time the show date was getting close, we either deiced to end it or downsize
that show was held at Midwest Conference Center in Northlake,IL, sadly to due to downsize of the room and location of venue it was viewed as one the worst shows we did.
So right after that, the hunt for the new venue was on, we talked to other hotels got no reply it almost looked we were heading back to MCC, then we decided to try the Odeum in Villa Park,IL, the location was great they gave more publicity then MCC plus they charged 1/3 less then MCC for 10k space.
The 2016 show was held at the Odeum and it drew over 100 attendees and sold out in vendors booths, it was viewed as our first successful show since the start and we decide to return in 2017 prices went up but not by much and had another sell out year, we even had a special guest that year and we started early admission and decided to have programs go digital. For now it looks like the Odeum is the new home for VGS as we return in 2018 and we plan to return in the foreseeable future.
Its no wonder VGS is also known as Chicago’s Premier Video Game Event.