Local “geeks” will assemble once again.
Last year, popular Bay Ridge business Gotham City Games brought joy to local gamers, comic book fans and all-around “geeks,” thanks to the Brooklyn Geek Fest, a first-time event in the neighborhood.
Now, store owner and organizer of the event, Bay Ridge resident Ralph Pugliese, is doubling down with Brooklyn Geek Fest 2.0. The second iteration promises to be bigger, better and more exciting than the first with an added day for a weekend full of fun.
“I’m really excited to be hosting it again in the neighborhood,” said the St. Anselm and Xaverian High School graduate. “We added a Sunday this year because a lot of people work on Saturdays and last year they couldn’t make it so we decided to add an extra day this year.”
Pugliese promises a similar experience, just bigger and better, with up to $2,000 worth of prize giveaways including the popular Nintendo Switch, Super Nintendo Classic and a Nintendo 64.
“There’s going to be a mystery box wall,” he said. “It’s like a gift box and there’s going to be 20 prizes within the random boxes. When you buy a box, you get a Willy Wonka golden ticket that says if you win the Nintendo switch.”
Cosplay was a huge hit last year as adults and children alike dressed as their favorite characters from games such as “Super Mario,” “Resident Evil,” “X-Men,” “Star Wars” and more.
“There’s going to be a big cosplay contest since it was such a huge hit this year,” Pugliese said. “We’re going to have two separate tournaments — one for the kids and one for the adults. They’ll each have their own prizes.”
Several competitive gamers are also expected to show for Geek Fest 2.0’s revamped tournament section.
“We are separating the tournaments from the other arcade group,” explained Pugliese. “Last year, it was exciting but it crowded up the area so we are isolating the tournaments in its own room to try and help with the flow of the show. And for the tournament we are going to have prizes for first, second and third place.”
Another new addition this year will be stand up arcade machines, some of which will also have a tournament. “We are adding ‘NBA Jam’ [for which] we’ll be having two on two and classic tournaments,” Pugliese said. “Using the actual arcade should be fun.”
Other games for the tournament will include “Super Smash Bros,” “Dragon Ball Mega Ball Fighter Z” and “Fortnite,” where first place wins cash.
Five more vendors are slated to join an already robust group of participants, selling all types of retro games, toys and — this time — comic books.
Pugliese was inspired to bring back the video game convention due to the overwhelming success of last year’s.
“I was stunned by the turnout,” he said. “I was expecting half that. I would’ve been happy with that but it was so great and everyone looked like they were having such a great time. I had such a blast that I wish I did another show [last year]. It’s been a year and it feels so long. I wanted to bring it sooner, but I’m glad we are bringing it back out in a month.”
Adding an extra day should allow both organizers and attendees to savor the event.
“It will allow our people to really experience it and give everybody some more time,” he said. “Last year, the day felt so quick. This may be a more relaxed atmosphere this time around because everyone knows that they’re coming back the next day. I feel like it will be a more complete show.”
The event has proven that there’s still an appetite for retro games in Bay Ridge.
“I feel like Brooklyn especially has such a large population here where so many people love to play the same games,” he said. “It’s a great way to meet people that have the same interests. People meet up from different boroughs and bond.”
Geek Fest 2.0 will be held on Saturday, April 7 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sunday, April 8 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Gregory Hotel Best Western, 8315 Fourth Avenue. One-day passes for adults are $15 and $10 for children. The two-day pass is $25 for adults. For more information, visit www.gothamcitygaming.com.