Itâ€™s a strange occurrence to walk through a trendy Brooklyn neighborhood and see people dressed in costume walking in and out of a hotel… in Spring! Last Saturday, the Best Western Gregory Hotel in Bay Ridge Brooklyn, hosted the first annual Brooklyn Geekfest, brought to you by Gotham City Games. The miniature comic-con style festival featured two rooms, one dedicated entirely to gaming, featuring multiple consoles, and ongoing tournaments throughout the day. The other was filled with vendors selling toys, homemade video art, and of course video game accoutrement. As is now tradition with any geek-themed convention, there was a cosplay contest for both adults and children.
Check out our interview with host and the owner of Gotham City Games, Ralph Pugliese, and our image gallery below.
One vendor there was Joseph Uzzo of Nestalgic Bits, selling his handmade video game themed pixel art, that virtually disappeared off the table. He was one of many vendors offering a wide array of merchandise. Popular at any convention are Pop Toys, and other action figures. What I marveled at were the folks selling the games from my childhood; NES, SNES, Gameboy, you name it, these guys had it. I even heard a conversation about buying and selling Sega Saturn games! They ran a cosplay contest where youâ€™ll never believe who won… it was Harley Quinn… of course it was. The highlight was a pair of twin toddlers dressed as Mario and Luigi. Upstairs the action was intense as players battled in games such as Teenage Mutant Turtles: The Arcade Game and Marvel vs. Capcom.
As my daughter took photos with full sized Star Wars jawas, and ran from an impressive Darth Maul cosplayer, I got a chance to speak to Ralph Pugliese, the owner of Gotham City Games who put the festival together.
Geeks Of Doom: Hey Ralph, so I guess first question, what was your first video game experience?
Ralph Pugliese: I guess it was NES. I played on that, but my favorite was Super Nintendo. My dad bought me an NES but I was a little too young. But Super Mario World for Super Nintendo, I was hooked. I played the sh*t out of that, and from there it was N64 and Playstation and I just played a lot and the games were so popular. Then I got a job with my father landscaping and 5 started buying video games for myself because I wanted to collect, collect, collect. I would buy bundles of games and end up with doubles. So Iâ€™d sell the doubles to get money to buy more games. And it took off and I started to get so many games I ended up with enough to start the store and that was 2-years ago.
Geeks Of Doom: So a natural evolution it seems.
Ralph Pugliese: Yeah. But before that I was doing flea markets. Work monday through friday then on weekends Iâ€™d do the Brooklyn flea circuit. I never really liked selling online, which is kind of the way things are now. I always liked selling face to face, you get to interact with people. Thatâ€™s reason I think we got such a good turnout today. Most of the people here today have been a customer of mine at a flea market or in the store, so add it up itâ€™s been about five years of me selling games at flea markets and in the store, which all lead up to Geekfest. Once I opened the store I started going to conventions like NYC Comic-Con and smaller video game oriented ones and I decided I wanted to do my own.
Geeks Of Doom: How long did it take you to set this whole thing up?
Ralph Pugliese: This we started planning back in January and announced it through our social media. It started trending from people who visit the store who then shared on Instagram, and really through there it started trending in Brooklyn and we got a lot of notice through that. Itâ€™s really all social media.
Geeks Of Doom: Is this the start of something you hope to become a yearly event?
Ralph Pugliese: Yeah. We were nervous about doing a bigger venue. We werenâ€™t sure what the turnout would be, but we sold out and itâ€™s packed, so next year weâ€™re going to look to run a venue twice the size and advertise twice as much. We really just did social media advertising, and then we got lucky and had a few articles written about us which trended on Facebook. Next year we want to do it a bit bigger, but we want to stay in Bay Ridge.
Gotham City Games is located on 503 84th St, Brooklyn, NY 11209.
Geeks of Doom will keep you updated on next year’s event.
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