In 2012, seeking to fill a void in the local gaming culture, Ryan Thompson organized a group of friends and began hosting Games Art and Music (GAAM) events around the city. While there were many, many renowned gaming events happening outside of Northeast Florida, like Las Vegas’ Evolution Championship series and the various the Comic Cons proliferating around other cities, there just wasn’t anything in this region quite like what Thompson was aspiring to create. Six years later, the GAAM Founder and President finds it easier for his crew to plan and set up these events.
“Planning takes around a month or two,” says the Thompson, “but once we have the location and equipment we can set up in 3-4 hours. The crew has done it so many times that they used to take 2-3 days. Now we can roll in and set everything up easily.”
On Sept. 22 Thompson & co. will throw their biggest event of the year when they host the Retro Hero GAAM Night and open “Hall of Heroes” superhero exhibit at the Museum of Science and History.
The GAAM show is the biggest event that the Thompson puts on each year. While gamers and anime-lovers come to party and play games, the the multi-day festival doubles as a charity fundraiser and auction. The smaller GAAM events happen twice a year, like the GAAM Night and Tabletop events where guests can learn about tabletop games such as Dungeons & Dragons. The Sept. 22 Retro Hero GAAM Night features an ‘80s/’90s theme along with the opening of “Hall of Heroes” in MOSH, a Stage 9 Exhibitions hero-themed display that was featured in the Orlando Science Center this Summer. The exhibit features statues of famed superheroes, replica gadgets, and other neat props.
The partnership with MOSH opens up even more opportunities for experiments and fun. The event will utilize the big screen in MOSH’s Bryan-Gooding Planetarium, as attendees will get a chance to play games in the Planetarium and competitions including Super Mario Kart racing, Super Street Fighter, and a Sonic Speedrun.
GAAM will also encourage cosplaying, hosting two contests (Best Couple/Duo cosplay and Best Overall), both with $100 prizes.
GAAM Night also has mini arcade cabinets that attendees can play within the Micro Arcade where attendees can play older classics like Pac-Man, Galaga, and even Skee Ball. Thompson says that many of the cabinets come Florida-based company called Basic Fun.
He even plans on opening a miniature arcade display in the future akin to the Regency Mall’s Tilt arcade that closed several years ago.
More information on GAAM can be found here.
Tickets for GAAM can be bought here.