TriplePoint New York is often asked about life in Silicon Alley. We get questions such as “what companies do we need to meet, what co-working spaces do we need to check out,” and more from our colleagues and contemporaries on the West Coast.
While there are numerous growing technology companies with offices in the “Alley,” including Tumblr, Bonobos, AppNexus, Birchbox, Boxee, Learnvest and more, there are also many favorite communal spots of the NY tech community. At these staples, you’ll find everyone from founders to VC’s to hackers plotting their next product feature or closing a funding round.
Here are some of the most popular destinations, complete with insider tips from TriplePoint and various tech influencers.
Thanks to @Mashable, @Birchbox, @FredWilson, @Naveen, @NihalMehta, @Benpopper, @Digital_sweet, @CBM, @LonisTweets, @Daveambrose, @Bonobos and all the tipsters within. Here’s our full list:
Ace Hotel Lobby (29th and Broadway):Get there early if you need seating for more than yourself. Make sure to grab coffee from Stumptown and if you have time, have breakfast at the Breslin.
Shake Shack (23rd and Madison): SF has In-N-Out, but we’ve got the shack. Give me a Double Shack Burger with a black & white shake in Madison Square Park over In-N-Out’s loud fast food environment any day of the week.
Birreria, at Eataly (23rd and Fifth): Situated atop Eataly with a retractable roof, Birreria is enjoyable year-round, but unbeatable when the weather is nice. TheShiitake mushrooms is one of the best dishes in the entire city.
General Assembly (20th and Broadway): What sets GA apart from the rest of the coworking spaces is its robust education program. If you don’t take a class, you’re missing out.
Tarallucci E Vino (18th and Fifth): Tucked around the corner from General Assembly, this Italian cafe is a regular on the tech breakfast and lunch circuit. You can’t go wrong with a croissant or the custard cream doughnut.
Grey Dog Cafe (11th and University): South of Union Square and only a few steps away from Dogpatch Labs, Grey Dog is often packed with various techies. Get the “Grey Dog’s Breakfast,” and thank me later.
In a climate when print properties are scaling back or shutting shop altogether, it takes a great deal of courage to start a new magazine from scratch.
After being one of the youngest hires in the history of the Wall Street Journal and covering a variety of web and entertainment topics including videogames, Jamin Brophy-Warren left the WSJ to take on a new challenge with the launch of Kill Screen Magazine, an in-depth print product fixated on a single question: “What does it mean to play games?”
We recently had the chance to catch-up with Jamin about his new venture.
TP: We’ve known you from your time with the WSJ and various other places, but tell us a little bit about your new venture, Kill Screen?
JBW: Last year, I had dinner at the Game Developers Conference with Chris Dahlen and some other videogame writers and we all complained that something like Kill Screen (then a nameless, amorphous blob) didn’t exist. Really, we just wanted a longer format place to pursue good writing and good journalism, so we talked about doing something over the next few months, gathered the writers, convinced Tony Smyrski (our design guy) to jump on board, and put together a working draft. But I couldn’t run something like this as a reporter for the Journal and I had been commuting back and forth from New Haven where my wife is a grad student. The travel was killing me, so it seemed like a good time to launch something new personally and creatively.
TP: What are your goals with Kill Screen? How will it differ from current outlets? What types of things will you cover?
JBW: Well, we want to approach videogames with the same gravity as Harpers or McSweeney’s or the New Yorker. The big difference will be the quality of writing and the design. It doesn’t look like a videogame magazine. We’re staying away from screenshots and focusing on illustration and photography. While I recognize the hard work that the enthusiast press does, I’d rather be HBO Documentaries than CNN. Our stories will, hopefully, timeless so that you can pick them up years from now and the narratives will still feel fresh. The bigger hope is to advance the common level of discourse around games. We have a vernacular about other forms of media, but the one for games is still in utero.
I think you do that by focusing either on the people who play games or the people who make them. For the former, we’re answering this question of ‘what do games mean’? We have all these intensely personal experiences with videogames and also with each other, so taking a look at people playing games in community and how these titles change how people think, act, eat, sleep etc. yields better stories. For creators, we want to flesh out their creative process more. Because the focus has been on videogames and not the people who make them, I find we know very little about how the personal lives of gamemakers affects their craft and that bothers me.
TP: Do you draw a distinction between game journalist and game reviewer?
JBW:Well, yes and no. I do in the sense that being a journalist and a critic are two different skill sets. One requires tact and guile and the other requires wit and occasionally rancor. But I think you’re seeing a blending of the two particularly online. Magazine writers have been melding those two together for decades, so I don’t think there’s a much a divide between the two as traditionally existed.
TP: We often see new gaming outlets that are web-only, what inspired you to produce an actual print magazine?
JBW: Counter-programming, I guess. I just picked up McSweeney’s Panorama which is really an amazing product. I can’t imagine producing that thing on a regular basis and that’s certainly the point. The direction for print is to decrease frequency and increase quality. What we’re selling is an experience with a print product because that’s the only thing that is unique to print any more. The feel of the pages, the crack of the binding, the look of the thing on your bookshelf — those still have value. The words themselves, while meaningful, don’t have value anymore in the economy of the web. So we’re selling this on the novelty of print. The Kindle and iPad are excellent devices to read things on, but as long as there are coffee tables, we’ll still need ornaments to adorn them with.
TP: Will content be available on the web?
JBW: We’re still working on that. The long-term goal is do a daily email with just one good thing a day and we’ll be teasing some of our content online here and there. I think that content fits better in some places than others. Long-form works best in print or an e-reader, browser based reading works best with short things. But the editorial tone will be consistent regardless of where and how you read Kill Screen content.
TP: Will there be a focus on indie developers?
JBW: Not exclusively. We love indies and we’ll continue to support them where they do good work. Much like film, music, literature, etc., indie implies more of an aesthetic than anything else. Heavy Rain feels like an indie to me in terms of what Quantic Dream was trying to accomplish emotionally. The budget might put them in a different category than, say, Jason Rohrer, but the intentions are exactly the same. I actually don’t find the term all that useful. Twisted Pixel is an indie, but they’re shooting for the polish of a AAA title. I think looking at budgets is a better way to group games.
TP: Besides yourself, who else will be contributing to Kill Screen?
JBW: We have a bumper crop of writers for the first issue. Tom Bissell (New Yorker, GQ, Guardian), Leigh Alexander (Gamasutra, Kotaku), Matt Shaer (Christian Science Monitor, Slate), Rob Dubbin (The Colbert Report) and so on and so on. It’s an awesome group. We haven’t announced the next crop of writers for the next issue, but they’re just as fabulous.
“I’m very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany,” noted anchorman Ron Burgundy. Would “a Kindle and many e-books” have been as impressive?
People obviously love books, but many love the idea of books more than the actual books themselves. There aren’t many things more impressive than a big bookshelf full of books in someone’s home. A CD collection very rarely matches the respect levels of a book collection.
Additionally, many readers feel an emotional attachment to books. The very thought of abandoning the traditional paper page is upsetting for many. Based on conversations, it seems that the current attachment to physical books is much stronger than the attachment to physical CDs during the rise of the iPod.
In this digital entertainment age, vinyl records have been making a surprising comeback. Sales are up across the board. Walk into any respectable music store and you’ll likely find rows of vinyl. Outside of the large artwork and distinct sound (that nearly everyone had written off as inferior), what would possibly be a unique selling point for a record?
Two years ago, some independent labels started packaging records with a download code for an MP3 version of the album as well. The best of both worlds! Consumers could revel in their traditional packaged purchase, but also have a digital copy delivered so that they can access the content on their PC and iPod.
This seems to make almost too much sense for the book industry. Consumers would have the tangible book to sit on the shelf and read while at home, but also a digital copy for portability. Who really wants to lug around a 400 page book?
But most importantly, how else will people know you’re smart and have good taste in music without leather bound volumes and enormous vinyl collections?
9/09/09. The day the music came alive again. Well, that’s at least what Apple, EMI, Sony/ ATV, and Harmonix wanted us to believe.
The world would be getting one of the most anticipated and hyped up games of all-time, Beatles: Rock Band, exposing a new generation to arguably the greatest band of all-time. Moms and dads would pick up plastic instruments and jam to “Happiness is a Warm Gun” with their wide-eyed kids. Finally, videogames as entertainment would bring families together in the living room, crossing the generation gap.
For hardcore Beatles fans, 9/09/09 represented the availability of the holy grail of Beatles recordings, the remastered stereo and mono mixes completed at Abbey Road studios, officially approved by Paul, Ringo, and the estates of John and George.
The stereo box set, with an average price of about $200, would clearly appeal to the bulk of Beatles fans. In the stereo box set you’d effectively get the Beatles complete works. The mono box set, originally produced in a limited run for approximately $240, would appeal to the audiophiles and hardcore Beatles fans who wanted the original ten albums remastered in mono as they were originally recorded. Then there is the group of Beatles fanatics that needed both box sets.
On release day, Beatles fans were faced with two box sets each with a price tag of $200+ and Beatles: Rock Band, priced anywhere from $50 (just the game) to $250 (premium bundle). With tough decisions comes sacrifice.
The Beatles: Rock Band sold approximately 595,000 copies in September, while analysts had predicted sales of over 1M during the month. In the major music markets of North America, Japan and the UK, more than 2.25 million copies of The Beatles’ remastered albums were purchased during the first five days of release.
While music gaming sales have been down in 2009, it’s only logical to assume that the Beatles remastered albums cut into the sales of Beatles: Rock Band. How many fans had approximately $300 lying around to purchase the stereo (or mono) box and just the game (no instruments)? If you didn’t have the peripherals already, the cheapest option was around $150, just to play. Any way you look at it, the cost of being a Beatles fan was at an all-time high. Sacrifices must be made.
If the Beatles did cut into their own sales, did it still make financial sense? Possibly. One could easily argue that the added buzz (and saved marketing costs) of a synched launch helped raise the overall revenue, whether that revenue came from a videogame or just the music.
“Who said the iPhone cannot handle PSP/DS like graphics? Who said we can’t have a great racing game without physical control pads? Well guess what iPhone folks, slap those doubters with 2XL Supercross. Frankly, this is the best motorcross racing in the store… and even the best racing game released.”
“2XL Supercross simply pushes the envelope when it comes to the iPhone’s graphics and gameplay capacity.”
Paradox Interactive showed multiple titles at this year’s GDC including early looks at Majesty 2, Hearts of Iron 3, Stalin vs. Martians, East India Company, a finished version of Elven Legacy, and a preview of the upcoming expansion for Mount & Blade.
Here’s what a few folks had to say:
“I could not be more excited for Majesty 2 if you paid me to be,” said Akela Talamasca of Big Download.
“It’s already headed towards Game of the Year,…” writes Justin McElroy of Joystiq after checking out Stalin vs. Martians.
Andrew Park of GameSpot was kind enough to discuss five of the titles.
Jason Ocampo of IGN wrote up a preview of the upcoming Mount & Blade expansion while calling the original “a cool blend of action, role-playing, and adventure set in a medieval world inspired by our own. It made for an amazing immersive experience, as well as a wholly original one.”
The remainder of 2009 promises to be a big year for Paradox!
The final day of GFG also offered a great mix of speeches touching on a variety of topics from IP Development, Social Game Design, the Future of Journalism, etc. I previously mentioned that there would be a discsussion on the games industry in Brazil and I’d like to share some of the information from this lecture.
Emiliano de Castro, the VP of Abra Games (the Brazilian Game Developer’s Association), ran down a list of some surprising stats:
– Brazil is the fourth largest PC market (behind the US, China, and Japan)
– (1) PC is sold every three seconds
– Brazil is the number one country in the world for residential PC usage per PC owner at 25 hours a month
– There is a 95% (!) piracy rate
Due to the staggering piracy rate and an extremely heavy import tax on hardware, the PS3 and Wii are ultimately non-existent in the country. The 360 is the only game in town. Sony recently announced they’d be opening a factory to manufacture the PS3 so that console will soon enter the market.
However, a new console, “The Zeebo,” has been announced that will debut in Brazil in July of 2009. The “Zeebo” will then enter other “emerging” countries such as India, China, and Russia. The cool thing about the Zeebo is that it is solely a digital distribution system (gotta fight their piracy problem). The system will operate on a 3G wireless network. Sounds pretty interesting right? Major companies such as EA, Activision, Capcom, SEGA, amd several others have already signed up. The games are projected to cost between $10-30 and the system will retail at $258 (USD).
Day one of the 2009 Game Focus Germany offered some extremely interesting speeches on a wide range of topics. However, two topics that almost every speaker touched on were the rise of outsourcing and digital distribution. Kevin Bruner of Telltale Games kicked off the day with a chat about their innovative approach, “episodic” gaming. Kevin really hit hard on utilizing non-traditional retail outlets and the benefits of taking your product directly to the consumer.
After Mr. Bruner spoke, we learned about the current state of the games industry in the UK from Ian Baverstock, CEO of Kuju. He gave an interesting lecture on what is working well in the UK and what is hurting the industry (lack of tax incentives vs. other countries in the EU).
Later in the afternoon, Tom Sperry of Vyk Games talked about “Outsourcing Best Practices.” It was somewhat shocking to hear how many companies will outsource their projects without really researching the outsourcing company. As evidenced by a nice, long Q&A afterwards, Tom’s speech sparked a great deal of interest.
One of the final speakers of the day was Aphra Kerr, a professor in Ireland. Aphra spoke on “Considering Cultural Diversity in Games Development.” She not only touched on cultural diversity, but gender diversity as well. She provided some great examples of some forced attempts at cultural gaming (i.e. an Irish sports game developed in Australia solely made for retail in Ireland and they proceeded to botch the rules of the game).
Day two promises to be just as interesting with topics like “The Future of Journalism” and “Social Game Design.”
After a 4.5 hour train ride from Munich this afternoon, I’ve arrived in Hanover for the 2009 Game Focus Germany conference. I’ll provide a recap and some thoughts on the various speakers each day after the show. Some great lectures are lined up on a variety of topics from Outsourcing by Tom Sperry of Vyk Games to an overview on the games industry in Brazil. Stay tuned!
In yet another sign that the overall mainstream perception of gamers is shifting away from the inaccurate stereotype of elementary and middle-school aged boys, the Obama campaign has placed advertising in ten EA titles. The titles are: Madden’09,Burnout Paradise, NASCAR 09, NHL 09, NBA Live 08, Need For Speed: Carbon, Need For Speed: ProStreet, NFL Tour, and Skate. Gamers playing the titles through Xbox LIVE are subject to the billboards and stadium signage.
This advertising campaign not only shows that the Obama campaign realizes the incredible amount of players 18+ playing games, but clearly recognizes that this demographic is civically engaged (and let’s be honest, the campaign has raised enough money to utilize non-traditional advertising).
Don’t rush over to your Xbox quite yet, the advertising campaign is strategically placed in ten swing states- Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Montana, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin. I wasn’t even aware that Xbox offered targeted, regional marketing on the LIVE platform, how long until we see “true” local advertising?