Being the unparalleled pop culture mainstay it’s always been in movies, TV shows, and comic books, it’s no surprise at all that New York has also been prominently featured in many best-selling, well-known video games. From industry classics like Max Payne to colossal productions such as Spider-Man or Grand Theft Auto IV — where we’re even allowed to roam painstakingly detailed recreations of Manhattan and beyond –, the city that never sleeps sure shows its pulse in the most accurate digital realms we can imagine.

Though, as fun as it’s to explore the big city through our gamepads, nothing beats the experience of being there IRL (you know, “in real life”). Especially if you love videogames. Because NYC has plenty of cool places intended to satisfy the needs of one of the most demanding, passionate, and loyal fan communities around: the gamers. From vintage 8-bit icons to the most advanced VR experiments, video games keep the world running as the most profitable entertainment industry in the planet and a pop culture powerhouse on its own. And that’s something you definitely can feel throughout the city’s five boroughs.

So it doesn’t matter if you grew up with Space Invaders, adore The Legend of Zelda, or just casually play Angry Birds in the subway: if you enjoy electronic entertainment, be sure to not miss out these video games locations in New York City!

Videogames New York

Photo credit: Javier Peinado. Used with his permission.

The absolute first stop to any digital entertainment buff visiting the Big Apple, Videogames New York is a true paradise to video game players of all ages and backgrounds, especially to those who enjoyed first-hand the golden age of 8, 16, or 32-bit systems while growing up. Considered by critics and fans alike one of the best video games stores in the planet, this small and cramped space located at the heart of Manhattan’s East Village might feel a bit tedious to navigate — even claustrophobic — in busy days, but it’s absolutely worth it. More than a store, this is a lovingly curated museum devoted to the history of video games. From the world’s first home video game console (the Magnavox Odyssey) and a brand new copy of the most hated video game ever released (Atari’s E.T. The Extraterrestrial) to a Nintendo DS signed by guru Shigeru Miyamoto himself and obscure accessories never sold beyond Japanese frontiers, every visit feels like an exciting and one-of-a-kind time travel to the roots of the industry.

Photo credit: Javier Peinado. Used with his permission.

Exclusive merchandise, imported games from practically every system, arcade parts, original soundtracks…a true nerdvana that will leave the most exigent video games historians widely satisfied!

J+L Game

Photo credit: Javier Peinado. Used with his permission.

Located a couple streets away from Bryant Park, this beloved store is an old friend to any gamer in the city. Starting its business in 1992 as a modest glass showcase in Chinatown, J+L Game made the big splash when it settled in its current 1000 sq. feet store in Midtown Manhattan. Its staff is specialized in retro gaming and new releases alike, which makes this spot a welcoming meeting point to both old-school gamers and promising newbies. It’s also a great place to go if your video game console gets broken, thanks to its high-regarded repair services. Looking for that sought-after Amiibo figurine? A Game Gear Micro? Japanese-imported PS1 oddities, maybe? They got it. As it’s boldly stated in their website, “If it’s hot, it’s here!”

Nintendo World

Photo credit: Javier Peinado. Used with his permission.

If you had to define “video games” with just one word, it’d have to be Nintendo. The “Big N” of Kyoto has been a synonym of high- quality electronic entertainment for decades, making history and breaking selling records thanks to the brilliant minds and creative genius of living legends of the industry like Shigeru Miyamoto or Gunpei Yokoi. It’s hard to argue that this company created the concept of video games as we know it. With an ever-growing universe of colorful characters like Kirby, Donkey Kong, Pikachu, and Super Mario, and epic franchises like Metroid or The Legend of Zelda, Nintendo can rely on its wildly beloved franchises and continuous experimentation to keep creating hits for many years to come.

Nestled at one corner of the world-famous Rockefeller Plaza, Nintendo World is a dream come true to any fan. This huge and beautifully decorated space is as colorful and visually stunning as you’d expect. Giant statues of some of the company’s most famous characters, interactive scenery that seems just came out from Hyrule and The Mushroom Kingdom, and a meticulous attention to detail will definitely bring your inner kid out. It’s definitely a happy place, carefully structured around popular franchises to make it easy to find a Pokémon plush, a Super Mario sweatshirt, or a The Legend of Zelda board game. You can even buy the traditional hanafuda cards that Nintendo used to sell during its humble beginnings as a toy manufacturer!

Photo credit: Javier Peinado. Used with his permission.

But there’s more. Nintendo World features an exquisite museum that allows visitors to learn more about the company’s history throughout vintage pieces of hardware (like a Game Boy heavily damaged in the Gulf War that still works!), toys, games, magazines, and signed memorabilia. To put the cherry on top, the upper floor has plenty of gaming stations and a central screen perfect for taking part in contests or just play for a while with old and new friends. It’s, as its mantra prays, “where everyone comes to play”!

Midtown Comics

Photo credit: Javier Peinado. Used with his permission.

Arguably the best comic book store in all New York (and that’s saying something!), Midtown Comics has plenty of stuff that will make any gamer more than happy. Fair enough, none of its three iconic Manhattan locations sell actual video games, but anything else stemming from digital entertainment mythos has a featured spot here. Huge, dynamic and hyper-detailed statues of Street Fighter and Mega Man characters strike an epic pose on shelves located above dozens of art books focused in the design of Overwatch, Monster Hunter, and Doom Eternal. At the other side of the aisle, comic books set on the Halo, Quake, and Sonic The Hedgehog universes share space with fully articulated figures from the Metal Gear Solid games and detailed Super Mario Bros playsets.

Photo credit: Javier Peinado. Used with his permission.

Final Fantasy poster books, Mortal Kombat bobbleheads, Pokémon model kits…Midtown Comics welcomes gamers with the same warmth and passion as it does with comic book fans, both online and at their physical locations.

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Photo credit: Javier Peinado. Used with his permission.

We put an end to our tour with what many consider the purest and most fulfilling gaming experience you can get: going to the arcades! Sure, now it’s easy to play online with virtually anyone in the world from our living rooms for a monthly or annual fee. But there was a time when you needed all your gaming skills to make the most out of your precious quarters at your neighborhood’s arcade saloon. Nothing could compare that feeling of clearing one stage after another while a small crowd gathered over your shoulder to check your progress. Those were the days. That’s why the old timers still love going to arcade saloons, which explains the immediate success of Barcade. A beloved icon in the New York’s video games scene, this “Original Arcade Bar” is the perfect place to gulp your stress away with a hamburger and a couple of beers while playing revered classic video games with your homies. You can find fighting legends like X-Men: Children of the Atom and the first Street Fighter, as well as vintage treasures such as Mappy, Galaga, Centipede and an hilarious 4-player Pac-Man. Of course, such a magical place wouldn’t be complete without a cool selection of elaborated pinball machines. It’s pure geek nostalgia!

Photo credit: Javier Peinado. Used with his permission.

Although you can find 8 locations throughout the East Coast — here’s a cool idea: snag some cheap domestic flights and visit them all! — , Barcade was born in 2004 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. And speaking of Brooklyn, here’s a fascinating fun fact: For many years, this borough was the canonic birthplace of Mario and his brother, Luigi, according to the Super Mario Bros earliest stories. The character itself was inspired by a real person: Mario Segale, the larger-than-life landlord of Nintendo’s offices in Washington State during the 1970s. His Italian-American accent, short stature, particular attire (apparently he wore suspenders quite often), and flamboyant personality made such an impression among his tenants that they decided to immortalize him as the most famous plumber/athlete/all-out hero of video games’ lore.

Do you know and love any other video games locations in New York? Let us know in our comments section below!

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About The Author

Content Writer

Born in Barcelona. Raised in Madrid. New Yorker at heart. When he is not geeking out at a comic book convention or binge-watching superhero shows, this bilingual journalist loves to discover secret venues and hidden places around the world to fill his insatiable wanderlust. He also digs into ghost-busting, Bigfoot-hunting, and UFO-sighting. The truth is out there.