Gamers flock to Manchester and enjoy pixel party and the history of computer games at Power UP

Gamers from across the region are flocking to Manchester this month for the Power UP gaming festival at the city’s Museum of Science and Industry.

The event on the first floor of MOSI’s Great Western Warehouse gives more than 350 people at a time the chance to test out 160-plus consoles, spanning the last 40 years of gaming history.

Power UP welcomes families for 90-minute or half-day time slots, as well as adult-only evening sessions in case you fancy a beer while you are button-bashing.

The European Gaming League are the organisers of this celebration of retro gaming and their chief of staff (and DJ) at the festival, Jon Blayney, spoke to Mancunian Matters.

“It’s a different kind of event for us,” he said, “We all grew up in gaming culture, so it’s nice to pay homage to the past.

“It bridges the gap between parents and children. They show their children what they used to play and it gives them a respect.”

Power Up is well-curated, so you can journey through time with a classic like Super Mario Bros., from the 1980s’ clunky NES console all the way to the modern-day Nintendo Wii.

PLAYERS: There’s plenty of different consoles on offer from retro to modern

Down one side of the room stretches a timeline table, allowing players to journey from the 1977 Binatone TV Master console and the Pong game right up to the latest PlayStation 4 Slim in 2016.

The festival demonstrates the family aspect of gaming through the sheer range of games on offer and how it can be a positive learning source for young and old alike.

Specific genres, including Lego, Sonic the Hedgehog, movies, football, Pac-Man, rhythm, Disney, driving, fighting and Mario each have a dedicated table, so getting around is easy.

Jon said: “I think gaming is a really important tool for helping with education and social skills.

“Children learn skills in a safe environment and then act that out in real life.”

Kids will have a field day at Power UP and attendees too, were keen to highlight the power of the pixel away from the screen.

TECHNOLOGY: The latest trends in gaming are available to try at Power UP

Ben Smith, 26, said: “I think it’s very easy to blame games for problems people might have.

“I’m a teacher and I promote using video games in my class, we need to look more deeply at what is causing issues.”

Cutting edge virtual reality games and a mammoth 16-player Halo 3 Xbox 360 set-up also take their place at the festival.

Tom Dill, 34, tried his hand at Fortnite, as he spoke to Mancunian Matters.

“I’m a Call of Duty man myself,” he says, “but Power UP takes you back to your childhood.

“Gaming is the only time I speak to my friends.”

The female turnout this year was much improved and shows that digital entertainment is not just a man’s game.

Juliana Gutierrez, 31, who runs the Power UP shop, said: “There are a lot of girls this year, which is cool.

“Power Up brings a lot of people together and those who don’t know each other will just start playing.”

Samantha Sandilands, 29, was immersed in A Bug’s Life on PlayStation, as she spoke about women and gaming.

She said: “A lot of women are here because they are with their partners.

“Women are portrayed as sex objects (in games), but it is changing and there are more strong female characters, which is what needs to happen.”

Inclusivity is high on the list of priorities for organisers and it shows in the friendly atmosphere of Power Up.

Gamer staples pizza, burgers and nachos, are also for sale at the bar, for any peckish players.

Power UP is in town until 19 August and tickets are £7 (90-minute sessions), £11 (half-day sessions), £12 (adult-only sessions). Kids under three get free entry.

For more information click here.

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