Byte Back 2009

The memories!

On the 8th and 9th of March I attended Byte Back, a small retro game convention hosted near Stoke-on-Trent, UK. I should really have taken more notes from the event, but honestly it was just a good time for me to get out and actually play some of the videogame history I keep writing about.

It was great to meet some other great people involved in videogame preservation or history – some I still need to contact (I’ll do so after GDC 🙂 ). I had a long chat with Andy Spencer of the Retro Computer Museum – he’s looking for a place to actually display the material he’s collecting, and is looking into making the organisation (which is very new) much more official. Some great systems he had on display, and he’s been getting a lot of good volunteer help and donations.

The pinball machine was popular

I caught up with Steve Webley, who’s really looking to work in the area of videogame history a lot more. Should be good seeing what he comes up with even if he is super busy doing tons of other cool things! 🙂

Dave Moore from Stairway to Hell was also a great insight into the UK game history scene, especially emulation. I’ll be in contact with him more I hope, certainly since I intend to research the webpages dedicated to systems and gather the webpages own histories. I also chatted very briefly with Weekend Gamer’s Sir Clive, who I should have done a more in depth chat with to see where they’re taking their series (which I brought both DVD’s of – should be a good watch!).

The second room

There were some good people (who only briefly chatted with) from the Retro Gamer forums, where I need to join up really. So many forums to join up to!

I didn’t do much journalism as such – I hope to get some of the footage recorded by some people onto the Internet Archive if possible, a service sadly not many people know about. I should have done some more prepared interviews, but without a real aim – since I haven’t got down even what information I want to write about the museums and archives, not even getting onto collectors, enthusiasts and private groups! I need to get more involved – or at least do some coverage of – the UK videogame history area.

A working copy of the Doomsday project! wow!

However, I do have some highlights from the event. At the charity auction (in fact all the money was going to charity, awesome!), I managed to bid for the books The Ultimate History of Videogames, by Steven L. Kent, and Game On From Pong to Oblivion The 50 Greatest Video Games Of All Time, by Simon Byron, Ste Curran, David McCarthy. The former is meant to be a great read – the latter very much a more popular look at good videogames, but I think should be a fun read in any case despite what the One Life Left guys say themselves about it on their show 🙂

Ocean Reunited

The Ocean Reunion was a little strange – various reminiscent, rants and good stories from the old company. There’s a video of the event on youtube, which is worth a watch (I wish it was on the archive though 🙂 ).

Jon Hare

I missed Jon Hare, which would have been good to see, but did manage to get involved in the first round of the fighting tournament – I fought a girl from the Retro Gamer forums, and while I managed to win at Soul Calibur, I did really poorly at Street Fighter and finally lost playing the decided in King of Fighters, which I had honestly barely played (although it was pretty close considering). The winner was pretty damn good, I just got roped into it as literally the last contestant, so there we go, my adventures as a pro gamer cut short 😉

Tony Temple, Jon Stoodley and Paul Drury

Lastly, Paul Drury’s Q&A with Jon Stoodley and Tony Temple was amazing – it explained the phenomenon of high scores, the techniques and games they played (Pacman and Missile Command respectively), the other high scoring players, and some amazing and funny anecdotes (especially relating to Tony Temples strange “opponent” Roy Shildt). This is another area which isn’t really being preserved apart from those dedicated organisations who record the scores, and the odd news or magazine article (sometimes written by the people themselves!). There are the odd few documentary though too – King of Kong (which I still need to watch) and some others I have forgotten about, doh. I’ll put this onto my growing “to investigate” list 🙂

All in all a good weekend, I’ll definitely come to the next one. I’ve also brought a ticket to the Retro Computer Museum open event on May 31st, should be good!

Gallery of pictures, can anyone name every system and game (if they are visible, I need to get a better camera):


One thought on “Byte Back 2009”

  1. Nice write-up Andrew and a good (if dark) set of pics. Good to have met you at the event and I’ll catch up with you again at the RCM Open Day…

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