Where do the nerds hang out in NYC?
May 9, 2009 8:11 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for some awesome geeky and/or nerdy places to go and things to do in New York City.

I've noticed that since my friends and I finished college and scattered to many different cities, a lot of my nerd-life has migrated online. (Online games, that sort of thing.) I want to bring some of it back to meatspace, because I live in a great city and I often feel like I'm not taking full advantage of it.

I'm looking both for things I can do by myself and also (maybe especially) for places I might meet and befriend other nerds in the city. I love all types of gaming, plus the usuals - science, sci-fi, fantasy, math, history, etc. I've found the D&D group on Meetup, though if anyone has a better D&D recommendation I'd love to hear it (I'm not comfortable enough with 4th Edition to DM yet). Also looking for any good places to play Magic, video games, etc. What's your favorite comic shop? Are there other meetup groups I should be aware of?

I am also interested in any geeky landmarks or things to visit which don't really fall into the social hangout category. I love the Museum of Natural History, for example, and I plan to check out the Medieval festival at Cloisters in the fall. More things like that would be great.

I'm primarily looking for Manhattan recommendations, but the occasional outer borough option is fine too as long as it's walking distance from the subway. Also, if there's a place you usually hear about these kinds of things in NYC (a forum or mailing list, maybe), I'd love a link to it.
posted by miskatonic to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (27 answers total) 54 users marked this as a favorite

Ex-New Yorker girlfriend says Midtown Comics is really good for new releases. There's another comic shop around 13th and Broadway, but she can't remember the name of it. She also recommends checking out the musuem of TV and Radio.
posted by TrialByMedia at 8:31 AM on May 9, 2009

She also says to check out the medieval armor section of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
posted by TrialByMedia at 8:32 AM on May 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

The arcade on Mott Street is pretty great; pick up some fried dumplings and then spend the next hour getting your ass kicked by 11-year-olds.
posted by saladin at 8:41 AM on May 9, 2009

We really enjoyed what was the Museum of Television and Radio (apparently now called the Paley Center). You go up to their library and search for pretty much anything that has ever aired on television or radio, then get to go down to a viewing center and watch it. I think we had more fun searching the database for what they might have than the actual viewing, but it was perfect on a rainy day. (The FAQ claims it is a curated collection, but we weren't able to stump the system.) They also have a few auditoriums that run special prearranged series (we were there several years ago and they had the best Superbowl Commericals ever, and a highlight of the best of CBC comedies.)
posted by librarianamy at 8:49 AM on May 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

When you go to the Museum of Natural History, pop around the corner on Columbus and visit Maxilla and Mandible.
posted by kimdog at 8:55 AM on May 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nerd Nite is often fun and interesting. It's usually at Galapagos in DUMBO and has been at Union Hall in Park Slope, both super easy from Manhattan.

Not exactly the location you are looking for, but worth the day trip to Philly, is the Mütter Museum. Not for the squeamish:

- The plaster cast of the torso of world-famous Siamese Twins, Chang & Eng, and their conjoined livers
- Joseph Hyrtl's collection of skulls
- Preserved body of the "Soap Lady"
- Collection of 2,000 objects extracted from people's throats
- Cancerous growth removed from President Grover Cleveland
- Tallest skeleton on display in North America
posted by anthropoid at 8:57 AM on May 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've never been, but I hear about NYC-based friends of mine talking about Barcade from time to time. Might be worth a look, though being primarily a bar it may not be your scene.
posted by heresiarch at 9:03 AM on May 9, 2009

Best answer: I can always make time in a trip to Manhattan to spend an hour to two browsing at The Compleat Strategist on E. 33rd.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:08 AM on May 9, 2009

Check out listings on nerdabout.
posted by nikitabot at 9:09 AM on May 9, 2009

And if you like the games at The Compleat Strategist, the NYC Board Games Meetup is fantastic and meets every other Wednesday in the basement of a bar called Lucky Jack's. Great people, lots of great games. Highly recommended.
posted by raygan at 9:11 AM on May 9, 2009

Toy Tokyo!
posted by hermitosis at 9:12 AM on May 9, 2009

Oh, and this one may be a bit hipsterized for some tastes, but Barcade in Brooklyn is the most amazing collection of classic arcade games in one place that I have ever seen. Go during happy hour and drink a couple decently cheap beers while getting destroyed by Sinistar!
posted by raygan at 9:13 AM on May 9, 2009

I get a lot of value out of Gothamlit, a mailing list mostly for readings by speculative fiction authors but also the occasional fun sciencey event.
posted by Jeanne at 9:17 AM on May 9, 2009

Best answer: perhaps more art/tech related than you're interested in, but there's dorkbot, nyc resistor, and makeNYC. I have many more places in that vein if you're interested.
posted by tip120 at 9:40 AM on May 9, 2009

Best answer: Couple things that have saved my life:

Get on the email list for Science in the city (NYC) -- this mailing list includes several weekly activities related to science, from will university science lectures to plays about science. Some of the most interesting things I have seen in NYC were on this list.

How much do you like science? If you need in depth full day-lectures by specialists (I do), or, if you would like a science lecture for a lay person, check out the New York Academy of Sciences. Lots and lots of lectures.

You mention that you enjoy history. The New York Historical Society has great, hands-on exhibits. It is free on Friday nights!

Finally, if you are a goofball like me, perhaps you just enjoy a lot of information for the sake of diving in? If so, I had a lot of fun when I joined the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a member and just attended some of the tours given by volunteers. Learn a lot of about a region of the world, or the room with the musical instruments from various regions of the world, etc. Show up once a week or so and follow the guide around.

Oh yeah, have you heard about the Science Festival? I saw it last year - lots of interesting researchers (physicists, big names, exploring science with a lecture, play, or full day event) --
posted by Wolfster at 10:02 AM on May 9, 2009 [5 favorites]

I've passed this place a million times, but never ventured in. It's called Robot Village, and it seems sufficiently nerdy, but in a very good way.

Here's the profile from New York Magazine.
posted by kmtiszen at 10:14 AM on May 9, 2009

A few more:

The Secret Science Club is set in a bar once a month in Brooklyn. Warning: go early. Some of the topics are set at a very basic level, but YMMV.

The 92 Street Y offers some interesting lectures, and although they are over for the year (not much in the summer), they have invited science researchers such as Brian Greene, Oliver Sachs, Jane Goodall, etc.

If you go to the websites or get on an email list, the NYC library also invites big speakers for letures (again, science researchers/authors). Also, there are a few really interesting AMNH lectures per year (the Asimov debates are great).

Going to step away from the computer screen.
posted by Wolfster at 10:26 AM on May 9, 2009

The Secret Science Club meets every month in Brooklyn and tends to host some big name scientific figureheads in a casual setting. Their next event (free) is this coming week at The Bellhouse.

There's a weekly Comic Book Club at The Pit (People's Improv Theater) every Tuesday at 8. It's $5 but they often have big name creators/fans come in to just chew the fat. Looks like Chris Claremont's coming up in June.

The Tor.com bloggers have occasional meet-ups, as does io9.

You could become an Improv Everywhere agent.

And it's not too late to take part in the yearly Watergun Assassination tournament!
posted by greenland at 10:36 AM on May 9, 2009

Response by poster: These are great so far! Also, I forgot to mention it in the post, but as my name implies I'm also kind of a horror geek so recommendations in that vein are welcome as well.
posted by miskatonic at 10:43 AM on May 9, 2009

I've never been, but I hear about NYC-based friends of mine talking about Barcade from time to time. Might be worth a look, though being primarily a bar it may not be your scene.

Barcade is great but don't go during peak hours, as it turns from a cool place to play old arcade games to a packed, scene-y bar very rapidly.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:48 AM on May 9, 2009

I've always wanted my picture taken in front of the offices of Marvel Comics.
posted by willmize at 10:53 AM on May 9, 2009

Best answer: Unfortunately, Neutral Ground closed down last year. In Brooklyn there's Kings Games, which is the same sort of thing (less than a block from the subway - you can see into the 2nd floor windows from the subway platform).

3rding The Compleat Strategist, it is the gaming megastore in NYC, and they have a bulletin board (an actual physical one) and occasional gaming in the back. Down the block there's Jim Hanley's Universe, a pretty big comic book shop.

Re: There's another comic shop around 13th and Broadway, but she can't remember the name of it.

Forbidden Planet used to be a great comic book & toy shop, now it's a decent comic book & toy shop, with a section upstairs for Anime, Manga & role playing games. (and across the street is The Strand, a huge used book store).

Video Games New York is probably the best video game store you'll ever visit - from imports to a huge selection of NES games, they have it all.

There's a Games Workshop on 8th street for your miniatures fix.

Googling just now I discovered Metropolitan Wargamers.

There's a few Renaissance Fairs that go on in the area - one in New Jersey, one upstate at Tuxedo Park that are well worth the trip.

If you're into anything Japanese (anime etc.) besides having a huge section in nearly every Barnes & Noble in the city dedicated to anime (recommend the one on 65th and Bway & the one on Union Square), there's the Japan Society that has lectures & movies, and Kinokuniya Books, a huge Japanese book store in the city, with a 2nd floor pretty much dedicated to movies, music & manga.

Street Wars (aka Killer) - a 3 week long water-gun assassination game starting on June 1st.

I've seen a few places that seem to host LAN parties, but I don't recall specifics, just always being surprised when they cropped up.
posted by MesoFilter at 11:01 AM on May 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'm also kind of a horror geek so recommendations in that vein are welcome as well.

Then might I recommend the gimmicky & touristy, but fun Jeckyll and Hyde pub. There's one uptown & downtown. Bring your little cousins, to the downtown one, the uptown one is more of a fright for little kids.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Brooklyn Monster Factory, which is owned by some friends of mine.
posted by MesoFilter at 11:04 AM on May 9, 2009

And this little event may be of interest to you...
posted by MesoFilter at 11:05 AM on May 9, 2009

Best answer: NerdNYC is a local nerd community with a lot of RPG and board game nerds. We have lots of ev ents too, including Recess, which is a one day gaming con that occurs several times a year and the Gotham Gaming Guild which runs short RPG campaigns of six or seven sessions for each run over the course of a couple of months.

I really miss this bunch since I moved to the UK. Tell 'em Phredd sent you if you drop in.

And if you're looking to play some Call of Cthulhu, you can definitely get hooked up by going there.

Also a good spot to find folks to play with if you are into Warhammer 40K.
posted by ursus_comiter at 12:38 PM on May 9, 2009

Just so you know, the NYC Board game group doesn't meet at Lucky Jack's anymore because apparently, board gamers don't drink enough to make it worthwhile for the management!

Once I find out where they meet now, I'll post again.
posted by TrishaLynn at 6:50 PM on August 10, 2009

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