A Worthy Cause: Help Support Babycastles, NYC’s Indie Game Arcade

A Worthy Cause: Help Support Babycastles, NYC’s Indie Game Arcade (photo)

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Arcades don’t exist anymore. What’s worse: They’re kinda hard to even remember, for those of us who used to put quarters up. (I know that’s difficult to admit, so just let it sink in.)

But, more than the thrill of actually playing “Pac-Man,” “Street Fighter” or “Paperboy,” the thing that arcades fostered was a social experience around games. That’s gotten lost as the video games business transitioned to home consoles and personal computers.

But, the arcade experience is coming back in the unlikeliest way on an unassuming street in Ridgewood, Queens. In a rundown live/work space that doubles as the Silent Barn music venue, twentysomethings Kunal Gupta, Syed Salahuddin, and Arthur Ward founded Babycastles, a basement speakeasy that showcases new and experimental games by upstart indie developers. The venue usually showcases work by talent that aren’t quite well-known yet, but they’ve also played host to art game creator Mark Essen, aka Messhof and Independent Game Festival winner Jonatan Soderstrom, better known as Cactus.

When I went to Babycastles earlier this month, they were opening up an exhibit of Christian-themed games and I got to play “Super 3D Noah’s Ark,” a re-skinned version the classic “Wolfenstein 3D” set inside Noah’s Ark, where I had to lob fruit to feed hungry animals. Also on hand were “The You Testament,” an action role-playing game set in the time of Jesus that casts players as a lost disciple who must resist attempts to goad him into violence. Babycastles seethes with DIY-ness: the games where set up in handmade cabinet stations, festooned with handmade signage, and everything from the sound system to second-hand PCs the games ran on gets appropriated by way of salvage or donation. As weird and accidentally compelling as the games assembled were, I wouldn’t have been able to play them–and more importantly, discuss them–outside of Babycastles. Both the underground indie scene and the social element around games needs nuturing and the Babycastles team is trying its best.

Now, the indie-centric crew is getting ready to set up a pop-up arcade just a stone’s throw from Grand Central Station, set to open on October 8th. There’s a need for financial support, though, and they’ve started a Kickstarter page to drum up support. Though they’ve already met their funding goal, every extra dollar helps the new exhibit be that much more awesome. Your money will be well-spent, as the upcoming pop-up will house work from the Experimental Gameplay Workshop, the Independent Games Festival, Eric Zimmerman & Natalie Pozzi and Eddo Stern, just to name a few. Check out the Kickstarter page for the full rundown of cool-ass games and developers who’ll be contributing and then open up your wallet to help Babycastles out. And, if you’re in New York, stop by for a gameplay experience that you can’t get a couch or a desk.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.