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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.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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