Undiscovered New York: It’s all fun and games

You’re casually walking near New York’s Washington Square Park when an unusual sight comes into view. A giant Pac-Man comes running past your side, trailed by two blue and red ghosts in fast pursuit. Has your mind lost its grip on reality, you wonder? Fear not, these crazed video game characters writ large are actually playing Pac-Manhattan, a real life version of the famous video game played with humans and New York City’s streets as the playing field.

Truth be told, Pac-Manhattan is just one example of how seriously New York City takes its games of leisure. Although images of frantic chess players in Washington Square Park might dominate your thoughts of games in New York City, it’s only part of the story. Whether we’re talking about games played in the street, in a park or on a board, New York is a great place to play some of your old favorites or try out some gaming experiences that are a bit more unusual. The opportunities are only magnified by New York’s diverse immigrant culture, who brings with them the unique games and traditions of their homelands.

Ready to check out a Cricket match in the Bronx or Boules and Bocce in Brooklyn? Would a clue from a New York City scavenger hunt draw you in to learn more? It’s time to start keeping score as Undiscovered New York goes in search of the city’s lesser known games. Check it out below.
Games Outdoors
Sure, you probably already know New York is a baseball town. But what about a Cricket town? Or a Bocce town? If you like your games international then New York is where to find it. New York’s diverse array of immigrant groups have brought with them an equally interesting mix of favorite pastimes, lending a decidedly multicultural flair to the city’s leisure time.

One sport that has been gaining in popularity is Cricket. Devotees from around the globe gather around the wicket at Cricket fields like the one at Van Cortland Park in the Bronx. Even if you don’t have the slightest idea how to play it can offer visitors an amusing insight into one of the world’s more popular games. If you want to learn more, New York Cricket is grand central for all things cricket in the Big Apple.

Equally beloved by New Yorkers is the sport of Bocce or Petanque, a strategy game which involves hurling metal balls across a gravel pit or grass. Though the rules vary slightly by country, the game is widely played in Europe, and the Continent’s New York descendants have taken a distinct liking to the sport. Ready to give it a try? Head to Brooklyn bars like Floyd’s or Pit Stop which both have their own court. Courts are also widely available at many city parks. Make sure to come back in September for the city-wide tournament.

Mind Games
New York is no doubt a thinker’s town and that fact figures prominently into many of its gaming pursuits. One example of that are the New York scavenger hunts created by Watson Adventures. Teams of contestants scour the city’s historic neighborhoods and museums in search of answers to some tricky questions. It’s a great way to learn more about the city and explore some less familiar/overlooked elements that give New York its particular charm.

If thinking games are more your style, you’re probably already familiar with Washington Square Park’s chess corner. Pretty much every day, hard core devotees spend their afternoons racing the clock at one of the park’s several permanent tables. Just down the street on Thompson is row of chess-themed stores selling an array of themed chess sets (think American Independence and The Simpsons) and players come to hang out strike up a few matches. Even if you’re not the next Bobby Fischer, it’s an interesting look at a culture that has long thrived in New York City.

Video Games
Gamers rejoice – New York’s got enough video game goodness to keep trigger fingers busy for hours. Gamers who have reached drinking age should make sure to stop by bars like Barcade in Brooklyn. It’s filled with 40-50 vintage 1980′s arcade games like Frogger and Space Invaders. Grab a quality pint of beer and and a few quarters and you’ll be set for the evening. Other bars like Crocodile Lounge on 14th Street offer a selection of bar games like Skee-ball as well as a FREE pizza with each drink.

If you’re looking for that rare Asian import game or vintage copy of Tecmo Bowl, look no further than Video Games New York. Devotees of Nintendo 8-bit goodness will find just about any older game to suit their heart’s content.