Sharp-eyed visitors to Arcade Blogger will know that Free Play Florida is a regular haunt of mine each year. I’m fortunate enough to get some time away on an annual basis, and like to make a stop at Orlando during my November trip, to take part in this great event.
Free Play hosts well in excess of 200 video and pinball cabinets (all on Free Play of course) as well as a plethora of talks from a variety of world-class players, artists and developers.
This year, I was more involved in the organisation of the event. I was asked to host a number of talks, including interviewing a special guest, a classic arcade quiz (more on that in a future post) and a talk about Missile Command.
This year, Free Play Florida was hosted at a new location, The Caribe Royale Resort in Orlando. This gave the event a much greater footprint than before and allowed for more inventory to be displayed. It was a huge upgrade on the previous location!
Let’s start with the pinball setup this year. A PAPA tournament was in full swing throughout the weekend. I met a bunch of pin heads this year – all cool folk. Their dedication to pinball was impressive, and I got to find out about new cool locations for future US trips that I hope to check out next time round. Having the ability to pop into the tournament room to watch these guys do their thing was great.
Aside from the tournament, there was an impressive lineup of pins, new and old on the show floor itself. Here’s some highlights of note:
With the show in full swing, the floor was busy, but as I mentioned there were plenty to chances to take a break to meet and listen to some of the guests. This year’s schedule was rammed with talks, side events and meet and greets. There’s too many guests to mention, but a few of the attendees this year included:
I would urge you to watch Warren Davis’ talk about the development of Q*Bert. It really was excellent and for me was the highlight of the weekend. Catch both parts here and here.
But of course it wouldn’t be Free Play Florida without classic arcade games, and the lineup this year was amazing. Again, there’s too much to detail, but I’ve picked out some highlights below:
Overall the event was a huge success – everyone I spoke to was very positive about the event, the games and the venue. I can’t wait until next year!
I pulled together a walk-through video of the show floor which you can watch below. It’s not the greatest video I’ve ever shot, but should give you an idea of the atmosphere at the event.
So a huge thanks as always to the dedicated team in Florida – they pulled off the best show yet, with lots of variety giving incredible value for money for everyone in attendance. To everyone at the event – great to see you all again, and thanks for having me. We created something very special this time around!
The future of Free Play looks very positive indeed. If you’ve yet to attend, keep an eye out for next year’s dates. See you next year!