Behind the Keyboard: The Nerd Cave Interview
In this installment of behind the keyboard I was lucky enough to have a sit down with Dave and Ben of the Nerd Cave, who have taken their passion for gaming and turned it into a space for everyone to come and share that passion. This interview has been edited slightly for length and readability, if you want to listen to the entire interview you can check it out here.
Charles: I’m Charles ‘Cheewilly’ Crew and you are?
Dave: I’m Dave Desi
Ben: And I’m Ben Ramjen
C: And you’re the… chief spelunkers of the Nerd Cave? Would that be a good way to put it?
B: Yeah I like that! I haven’t heard that before.
D: And there’s also two others, Josh and Tau.
C: Awesome. So I’ll ask the obvious question first, how did [The Nerd Cave] get started?
B: (Laughs) You do the honours.
D: So when I was fairly young… little Dave watched the Ninja Turtles. The live action one.
C. Oh, you mean the movies?
D: Yeah the movies. And in the first one the Foot Clan was recruiting kids into their ranks…
B: So thats what we want to do here!
D: (laughts) Yeah we’re going to be the Foot Clan. And they had this place, where they let the kids play… if you’ve seen the film, have you seen the film? Do you know what I’m talking about?
C: I have, back when it came out in the 90’s.
B: Super graffitied, skateboard ramps everywhere, arcade machines, gambling…
D: A little bit of everything that was probably the first iteration of everything that was in my mind and I thought it would be awesome if there was a place like that.
B: Minus the gambling.
D: (laughs) Minus the gambling, and also the smoking kids. There was none of that. As time went on, my family used to own an Internet cafe, it didn’t go so well in the end because people don’t need internet and what I found was most people were coming for games. So the reality was lets make a place that’s solely focused on gaming and leave out the rest of the stuff we don’t need, and then have a little bit of everything so that everbody can come and play together and there’s always a place for someone to play and somebody to play with.
B: And then I guess the manifestation of this idea was in my car one night on the way home from band practice when Dave turned to me and said: ‘I’ve got the greatest idea, ever and it’s never going to happen.’ what, what!? and he’s like: ‘I can’t even tell you it.’
And I was like: ‘ No, you’ve got to say something!’ and so we started talking about it and then, like nine months later we had the cave?
D: Yeah about nine months after.
B: A child was born.
C: So you’ve got a lot of of different stuff you’ve got PCs and arcade machines over there how did you decide what to include and how much of each thing to include in the mix?
B: That was tough, and we still kind of argue about it these days. I think for me I wanted the PCs because I’m a first person shooter, that’s kinda my thing. I wanted the Playstations because I love Tony Hawk and racing games. I didn’t really care too much about the other stuff. I think Dave was into the PCs as well.
D: I think that it’s a combination of the stuff that we want to play as well as what we thought would cover the majority of the people that might come in. If I was to pick out one thing that is the main eye catcher for most people it’s probably the arcade machines.
C: They’re definitely a centrepiece I think.
D: Most people don’t have that kind of thing so we felt like it was important to give it that kind of vibe that we’re looking for, a place to hang out and play games.
B: They probably hardest decision we had. The computers, you get the games you get and you’re fine, the consoles you build up the games and you’re cool; we had to make a choice with the arcade machines which is what do we get and how do we decide, and it a very tough choice but we ended up going with a Street Fighter IV, sort of an arcade edition and a 1300 in 1. That seemed like the smartest choices for us and it’s worked pretty well.
C: Arcade culture never really took off in Australia like it did in America in the 80s/early 90s or Japan, do you have any idea why that might have been?
B: Well I think we kind of missed the boat, we got in a bit too late and people didn’t want to go in and spend four dollars on a game. That’s my opinion of that.
D: I think that we’ve always had places like TimeZone and IntenCity, they are around. But the reality is, what Bens saying I think, we’re always a bit more cost conscious in Australia a lot of the time compared to other countries based on the fact that we have to charge so much more for everything. So a game in the States is a quarter whereas here it’s dollar or two bucks and that makes a big difference. It’s probably partly to do with pricing and partly to do with the majority of Australia as far as I’ve seen last time they did a count of who plays what [it’s] mainly PC players here in Australia.
B: I think as well tying in to what you were saying about being so separate from the rest of the world, we want to game with other people and in America you’ve got so much access to everywhere else through any kind of medium whereas in Australia the easy way to do it is to game with someone halfway across the road on a computer using Ventrilo or Mumble, whatever you want to use to talk to people. That’s what was important to me when I was playing Battlefield 1942 and Counterstrike we wanted to talk to each other when we played so we’d play different servers from around the world and around the country and it was always a bit more accesssible and easier.
C: When you describe the Nerd Cave to people like friends or people you’re trying to get to come over, how do you describe it?
D: That’s probably one of the hardest things to do [because] there aren’t many places like it. I try to say that it’s a gaming parlour or a clubhouse for nerds. It’s very hard to describe because it’s not an internet cafe, it’s not an arcade, it’s not a board game cafe it’s kind of a little bit of everything. Clubhouse usually is the best way to describe it but that’s part of the reason we went for the name that we did, because there’s no mistaking what it is. When somebody hears the words ‘The Nerd Cave’ I think they know what’s going to be happening inside and they kind of get a basic idea of how it would be running or what we’d have inside there.
C: To make the Nerd Cave as successful as you can, what do you think will be the most important aspect to focus on?
B: I think there’s a couple of things. Obviously the first thing we need is customers, so what we try to do to help that is use what we have with all four of us [and our ability] to talk to people. We like interaction, that’s what we build this place around. Not rock and roll, interaction. That’s something that we’ve seen be really effective with our client base. We take interest in people, not because it’s our job but because we’re interested in people, so that’s something that’s really nice for us. We’ve all come from backgrounds where we deal with people on a daily basis, usually in a sales environment, so that side of it is quite easy for us. What we like to do is get to know people and game with them and be a part of their gaming life. That’s what’s making it a successful venture for us.
D: And I think the second step to that is when people come in and they have a good time here they tell their friends, so word of mouth is definitely our best tool. Outside of that, if you’re asking what it’s going to take, I think the attention of some of the large companies that are around to either want to run events here, run competitions here, that kind of thing. Which is what we try to do now, not that we’re solely interested in that but we run events for people and I think that’s a big part of what’s going to grow the Nerd Cave.
B: Kind of the basis of the Nerd Cave is an event space for nerdy stuff.
C: You guys presumably grew up playing games, what sort of games did you play when you started out and did you try to reflect that with what you’ve picked here?
D: In terms of what we picked here I think we went for a couple of the staples for what I would expect somebody to want to play on an arcade machine. That’s probably why we picked Street Fighter for our arcade machine. It’s definitely why we picked things like CounterStrike to buy on [the PCs] and Call of Duty. In terms of what I grew up playing I had an extremely tortured life of my father pushing me to play first person shooters forever.
B: Because he knows what he’s talking about.
D: (laughs) Yeah, I think I grew up with most of my time playing that. A lot of death match, we used to run pretty serious with that. I guess I kind of got a little bored of it and when I found things like MMO’s, I’m a big MMO player myself so that’s probably where I lean more towards, role playing games. RPGs on the computer and MMOs, and then the table top stuff which I did a lot of as well when I was younger.
B: I grew up mainly on FPS so: CounterStike, Battlefield all those kinds of games. I suck at strategy games, I can’t do it, I just die, so they got really boring really quick for me. I’ve tried MMOs, and I think I’m coming around to them now.
C: You’ve got a lot of choice these days.
B: Yeah exactly and I really enjoy them. I love first person/MMO that’s probably my favourite, like Borderlands style games. They’re awesome. But I grew up on SEGAs, like old school Sonic the Hedgehog, Master System, Mega Drive, that was my upbringing so thats been my gaming experience. The thing that stopped me from playing tabletop was a lot of the people in the stores, they’re just arseholes, and they make it really hard for you to learn. That’s one of my favourite things about here. Dave knows a lot more about it than I do, but we teach. [Tabletop games are] tricky and there’s a million rules that don’t really work most of the time, they’re really hard. But I like the fact that we can teach that to people because there’s nothing worse than walking into a store and getting shut down and never wanting to play again. So that was my experience with tabletop after a couple of years and it’s nice to be able to do it on a bit more of an open floor.
C: And looking forward, what are your plans for the future and expansion?
D: I think more events, and hopefully we have some things coming up that might be working towards opening some more stores, possibly not in Sydney or anything like that but around Australia hopefully.
B: And we’re looking at hopefully duel-siding Sydney as well at some point in the future. The thing we’re trying to do now is also acquire some more gear so we would love to have a shooting arcade game, a racing arcade game, if space permits.
D: Two of the things we’re missing at the moment.
B: A couple of those novelty items that are great for everyone to crowd around and go for gold on. So we would like some of that kind of gear, obviously we want to expand on what we’ve already got to pack out as much as we can, but I think the next step for us is probably going to be getting around Australia a bit more than we already are.
C: And if people want to get involved and help expand it what would be the best way to do that?
D: Come talk to us!
B: Yeah come drop us a line, there’s always someone here. Two of the four of us will always be here every day of the week, so come down and sit and have a chat.
D: Come see us at comiccon, we’re going to comiccon!
If you want to learn more about the Nerd Cave, you can check out their website, like their Facebook page, or visit them in person at 1/7 Randle St, Surry Hills NSW 2010. If you do, say hi from kindawesome! If you want to be interviewed by us, email firstname.lastname@example.org and drop us a line.