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Retropalooza video game convention hits rewind button in Arlington

YouTube gaming star Metal Jesus is based in Seattle, and is one of several YouTube celebs scheduled to attend.
YouTube gaming star Metal Jesus is based in Seattle, and is one of several YouTube celebs scheduled to attend. Retropalooza

Gen Xers, hipsters, moms, dads and even millennials clamor for the days of Donkey Kong, Pac-Man and the original Super Mario Bros — a simpler time when there were fewer buttons to press and multi-player gaming meant sharing couch time with a friend or three.

One of the cooler aspects of this phenomenon is the popularization of retro video-game conventions, such as Let’s Play Gaming Expo in Plano, RetroFest in Fort Worth and Retropalooza in Arlington. The last, a family-friendly festival now in its fourth year, is the biggest video game con in Tarrant County, and it’s taking place this weekend at the Arlington Convention Center.

Organized by locals Jay Hunter and Billy Chaser, who host the popular YouTube show The Game Chasers, Retropalooza is one of the more YouTube-centric gaming get-togethers in the country. In addition to cosplay, tournaments, games set on free play and a large vendors room filled with cartridges, controllers and consoles, the two-day event will feature panels, autograph sessions and meet-and-greets with a variety of well-known YouTube content creators.

One such celeb is a “long-haired rocker dude” who goes by the name of “Metal Jesus.” The Seattle resident, whose in-laws live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, recently surpassed the 300,000 subscriber mark on his YouTube channel, MetalJesusRocks, which he describes as “dedicated to retro gaming with a heavy metal soundtrack.”

“I’ve known The Game Chasers for a while now, and they invited me to come down this year and check out their expo,” Metal Jesus says. “I’m excited to meet new people and buy from new vendors. Bring your vintage ’80s and ’90s big-box PC games to the show because I want to buy them from you!”

In computer years, Metal Jesus has been at this a long time.

“I started doing YouTube seriously in 2010,” he says. “That’s when I decided that YouTube wasn’t just a hobby but something I was going to consider like a second job, which it is.”

Regarding his stage name, he says, “I worked a corporate job with a lot of people in cubicles and button-down shirts. However, I typically wear rock T-shirts, just like in my videos, and I had thousands of rock and metal songs on my computer that were shared out for anybody to listen to. One day in a meeting, a fellow co-worker called me ‘the Metal Jesus,’ and it just stuck!”

An affable, down-to-earth guy who creates slick, polished material, Metal Jesus adds a new video to his YouTube channel Tuesday and Friday of each week.

“With the help of the Seattle gaming community, I cover Hidden Gems and Buying Guides, as well as the popular I HATE U series, Gamer Eats and much more,” he says.

Some of the MetalJesusRocks videos we’ve seen find him showing off his extensive game room, recommending obscure titles, chumming with his occasional co-host Kinsey Burke and revealing his “top 10 games of all time,” which include such gems as H.E.R.O. for the Atari 2600, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic for the Xbox and, not surprisingly considering his moniker, the “Rock Band” series.

Metal Jesus has been a “lover of shooting and editing video” since he was a kid, drawing inspiration from a variety of sources, including film, TV documentaries, commercials, other YouTube channels and music videos.

“A specific example is a gaming party video I shot a few years ago,” he says. “When it came time to edit it, I watched a bunch of MTV shows to see how they edited random party footage. They did things like speeding up and slowing down footage, crazy filters and just the pacing of the cuts. I used that to give me some direction on how I would take my video, and it worked pretty well.”

Making videos that are watched by hundreds of thousands of gamers and pop culture enthusiasts is a dream come true for Metal Jesus.

“The best part is that people seem to appreciate it, and for that I am eternally grateful,” he says.

Other popular YouTubers scheduled to appear at Retropalooza include:

▪ Pat “The NES Punk” Contri, who is on hand to promote his new Ultimate Nintendo book.

▪ Norman “The Gaming Historian” Caruso, one of the more erudite gaming video creators on YouTube.

▪ Brittney Brombacher, founder of BlondeNerd.com, where she “uploads strange videos of herself and talks/writes about all things video game related.”

▪ Gaijin Goombah, who teaches multiculturalism through the medium of video games.

▪ Andre “Black Nerd” Meadows, a comedian and commentator who’s an “official ambassador for Nintendo, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers.”

Brett Weiss is the author of the “Classic Home Video Games” series (McFarland Publishers) and of “The 100 Greatest Console Video Games: 1977-1987” (Schiffer Publishing).

Retropalooza

  • Arlington Convention Center
  • 1200 Ballpark Way, Arlington
  • 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, $20; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, $10; weekend pass: $25. Kids 12 and under free when accompanied by a ticket-buying adult.
  • Parking: $5
  • retropalooza.com
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