Midwest Gaming Classic

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Midwest Gaming Classic
Midwest Gaming Classic (logo).png
Status Active
Genre Video gaming
Venue Olympia Resort and Conference Center
Location(s) Brookfield, Wisconsin
Country United States
Inaugurated June 30, 2001
Attendance 1,600+ (2007)

The Midwest Gaming Classic (MGC) is an annual convention for all forms of electronic entertainment, including video games, arcade games (video, pinball, traditional electro-mechanical), computers, and more. The expo is open to the general public and bills itself as a "fan based" show rather than an industry trade show like E3.

While the MGC attracts a large contingent of Retrogaming enthusiasts every year and supports this grouping of video game fans, the philosophy and use of the word Classic in the show title is meant to convey the fact that "everything is a classic to someone." As such, the show covers all forms of electronic entertainment from the glory days of pinball and other electro-mechanical machines to the latest computer and console offerings, and features gaming competitions and prizes.

Usually the event is usually held in March of each year in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin although for 2010 it will be held in Brookfield, Wisconsin.


The Midwest Gaming Classic was first held on June 30, 2001 as Jagfest 2K1 and was dedicated to ongoing fan base and homebrew scene of the Atari Jaguar. At that time, the 2K1 show organizers Dan Loosen and Gary Heil decided to open the show to all classic platforms in an effort to expand attendance. They were soon contacted by Martin Goldberg who offered to set up a museum area for the show, and started a tradition of having consoles and computers on display playable by show attendees, as well as gaming competitions held on multiple platforms and prizes at the show.[1]


Jagfest changed locations and organizers again for its 2002 show. However after the success of the 2K1 show, which was one of the largest attended Jagfest shows, it was decided to not let the momentum created go to waste. So Dan, Gary and Marty decided to band together and start their own show. Dan and Gary held a contest to decide the name of the show, which was won by noted console hacker Benjamin Heckendorn who suggested Midwest Classic.

During the organization process J.D. Norman of Die Hard Gamer, who had been in attendance at Jagfest 2K1, decided to come on board as an organizer as well as join the museum with Marty. It was also during this first Midwest Classic that the show was expanded to include Pinballs.

The 2002 show also saw the launching of several new games for classic consoles, including Warring Worms for the Atari 2600 and the Turbo Duo title "Implode". The 2002 show also saw the start of a long-standing tradition of Dreamcast community support, with the appearance of developer Paul Boese and his 3D Invaders homebrew. Lastly, the 2002 show also saw the appearance of the show's longest running sponsor (next to The GOAT Store), Stern Pinball (the only last producer of pinball machines).


With the success of the 2002 show, it was decided another location was needed for further growth. So in 2003, the show moved to the spacious Nicolet High School cafeteria and meeting hall and was held on June 7, 2003. J.D. Norman left as an organizer, but continued to display his collection with Marty in the museum area. Noted pinball collector Tom Lucht was brought on board as a co-organizer, and immediately set about beefing up the pinball/arcade section of the show.

The show's arcade vendor policy was also created for this show, with all the show not charging for sales as long as all arcade games on the floor are set to free play for attendees. This show also saw the appearance of arcade and pinball vendors, including K&K Amusements and Illinois Pinball.

2003 also saw the return of MIDI Maze for the Atari ST, the first 16 player networked first person shooter. The Dreamcast game Feet of Fury made its commercial debut at the show with a full floor display.Jagfest (which had suffered in attendance the previous year for its St. Louis 2002 show) returned in a new format, as a smaller display area called Jagfest On Tour.

Various homebrew titles for the Jaguar and Atari 2600 also made their debut at the show, as did the Dreamcast titles Inhabitants and Maqiupai, the winners of the first annual Dream On Contest (held jointly between Cyberdog Castle and The GOAT Store).


It was decided the show had once again outgrown its space, and moved locations for its 2004 show to the Sheraton in Brookfield. A name change was also in order, as it was discovered a Midwestern golf tournament also used the Midwest Classic title, and the word "Gaming" was added. The retitled Midwest Gaming Classic also expanded to a 2-day show. Thanks to the efforts of Tom and Dan the arcade section of the show grew even larger, with 40+ video, pinball and electro-mechanical arcade games there.

Twin Galaxies also attended the show for the first time, with founder Walter Day, Dwane Richard, and legendary competitor/record holder Billy Mitchell making appearances. Billy also set the world public record for Donkey Kong while in attendance.

Speakers were also added to the show for the first time, with Gene Cunningham, Don Caldwell, Mark Bakula, J.D. Norman, Dan Loosen, Marty Godlberg, the staff of S+F Software, and others speaking about relative gaming topics. Noted homebrew publishers AtariAge and Packrate Video Games attended the for the first time. Game LANs also made a return to the MGC with the Macintosh classic Marathon 2 and PC based Battlefield: Vietnam there in large 12 player LANs. The 2004 MGC also added musical entertainment with Bud Melvin, who plays a banjo with a hacked Game Boy Color as background music, on hand in the main hall.

The 2004 show exploded in attendance to an official 1,200 over the 2 days. However the attendance was actually closer to 2,000 as only paying attendees are traditionally counted for the final count (children 12 and under have always been free, and make up a large part of the attendance as well). The show was clearly growing beyond the scope of the 4 organizers, and it was decided to take 2005 to plan further growth and to obtain volunteers to help run and organize it.


For the June 3 and 4, 2006 Midwest Gaming Classic a full staff of volunteers joined. J.D. Norman also returned to co-organizer status. The show moved to the Olympia Resort just outside of the Milwaukee area and floor space increase to 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2). After the suggestion of some attendees of the 2004 show, the 2006 show was located in two main halls (2004's had been in several halls and floors of the Sheraton).

All areas of the show doubled in size, with 100 arcade machines (pinball, video, and electro-mechanical), 30+ console/computer/arcade vendors, a large separate display area (which also included the second annual DreamCon game convention, the return of Jagfest On Tour, and a new area called The Underdog Chamber which featured a Marathon 2 Mac LAN and various runner up game systems), a further enhanced museum, and large speaker area. 11 new Dreamcast games were revealed at the show, as were new games for Atari consoles.

Speakers included Ellen Lurie of Raven Software, the game author/publisher Scott Adams, Benjamin Heckendorn, authors Don Caldwell and Mark Bakula, and more. Ralph Baer was to have attended but became to weak for travel and instead sent material for Marty Goldberg to present for him. In a "live" display, Russell Stetzer hacked an NES into a form factor (Mini-ITX) PC over the two days.

An episode of the podcast Team Fremont Live was recorded at the event. Microsoft provided an Xbox 360 to be given away for the raffle along with 2 games for it provided by Sega. A professional pinball tournament was also run, with cash prizes. Final attendance was reportedly slightly larger than the 2004 show, which was a targeted goal.


  1. ^ Midwest Gaming Classic past events, Retrieved July 29, 2008.

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