Date: 29th-31st October 2022
Location: Farm Bureau Expo Center, Lebanon, TN, USA

For the second year, the rebranded and expanded Grand Ole Gameroom Expo, now called the Music City Multi Con, set up in the Farm Bureau Exposition Center in Lebanon TN, which is a short drive east of Nashville. 

The Multi Con venue is about twenty minutes from Nashville Airport (BNA) and is surrounded by affordable, nationally-known chain hotels having several hundred rooms available within a relatively short drive.

The Expo Center boasts a combined 79,000 square feet of floor space available in the main event and exposition hall. Also, it has dedicated parking for the center without sharing the parking area with a hotel or other venue.

Some of the contestants in the adult cosplay competition

There is a lot to share about the vendors of comic books, pop culture collectibles, board games (and accessories) as well as the Cosplay contests for both children and adults and so forth, but since this is a pinball-focused publication, I will fast forward to the highlights most likely to interest the pinball and arcade gaming community.

Multi Con organizers made the very intelligent decision to have food and beverage servers on-site, including the ability for attendees to order beer and other mixed adult beverages to enjoy. Rockstar energy drinks provided free samples to the attendees. Not in a paper cup, mind you, but a full-sized 16-ounce beverage! Of course, soft drinks, desserts, and the Tennessee staple of slow-roasted BBQ were also available for purchase.

Lots of food and beverage choices at Multi Con, including free samples from Rockstar Energy Drinks

Tilt Amusements brought a literal truckload of the latest and greatest Stern Pinball games, including two models of 007 James Bond which is so new that, apparently, Stern doesn’t yet have approval for some of the intellectual property used in the game.

These two models of Stern’s 007 James Bond were available for free play

Tilt had a 300-inch display suspended above their booth showing the ‘Insider Connected’ high scores for the Stern games in their area. I fell into the trap of trying to improve my position on the leaderboard for the games that were on hand, and I can see how this would work to increase competition, and repeated gameplay, among arcade patrons.

There were rows of classic stand-up console games and several unique commercial video games seldom seen in North America, all set to free play.

Interesting cabinet style video games and pinballs were available for attendees to play

Near the main stage, which overlooked the modern and classic console gaming area there were examples of virtual reality (VR) games and experiences set up that attendees could try if they desired.

The show had a dedicated help desk with technicians available for game repairs and any assistance that attendees might need to get the most out of the games on the main floor that were available for play.

The organizers of Multi Con went all out to provide high-quality programming for attendees with an exceptional array of guest speakers. 

On Friday evening, there was a program with video game designer and programmer Warren Davis who was interviewed by gaming podcaster Whitney Roberts. Davis had some wonderful stories that he told about his early days at Gottlieb, including tales about the conception and development of the game Q*bert. Whitney had some great questions which kept the attendees engaged and interested. There was a brief discussion of the rather unconventional Q*bert’s Quest pinball game designed by John Trudeau, which unfortunately sold less than 900 units compared to an estimated 25,000 units of the arcade cabinet version of Q*bert.

Whitney Roberts interviews game designer Warren Davis

Another program that Multi Con attendees were treated to was Brent Griffith interviewing John Youssi. John shared memories of his accomplishments as a prolific pinball artist. John had inside stories and a slide show of illustrations showing the process which led to the artwork for such classics as Williams’ Funhouse, The Machine: Bride of Pin-bot, Red and Ted’s Roadshow, The Addams Family, Medieval Madness, and recently, the artwork for Jersey Jack’s Dialed In!, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory and Toy Story 4.

John also mentioned such things as his technique, where he used photos of family members and himself as references to help make his artwork more realistic, the challenges of working with licensors, and the trials and tribulations of the pinball artwork approval process.

Brent Griffith and John Youssi discuss the finer points of pinball artistry

E-sports organiser Kumite in Tennessee (KIT) was on hand in full force for the finale of their beloved event in the Southeast. A literal army (over 700 contestants pre-registered!) of competitors worked through the ranks in the hope of taking home one (or more) of the beautiful trophies.

The final standings should have been posted on www.start.gg by the time you read this. The final-round tournament videos are usually available on platforms such as YouTube, so you may want to keep an eye out for them.

Kumite in Tennessee trophies and some of the contestants battling for overall honors

The Grand OGRE pinball tournament returned for 2022 and boasted entries from all over the USA. The tournament room was packed with competitors well before the start of the actual event as people worked to become familiar with the quirks of each game that was to be used in the contest. New this year was a large screen monitor at one end of the room showing the tournament progress in real time.

The Grand OGRE tournament area
The Grand OGRE tournament area

2023 Multi Con dates have not yet been announced, but I’d strongly suggest that you make your plans to attend as soon as they are known. It has been rumored that the show dates will be changed for 2023 to not conflict with other Nashville area events, such as regional soccer tournaments. All the more reason to keep an eye on the official event website, musiccitymulticon.com, for updates and official 2023 show information.

Additional show photographs are available for viewing on Flickr in the album 2022 Music City Multi Con Additional Images. All images are copyright 2022 by Pinball News and M.G.Brown. Permission is required for use.

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