Something nerdy is happening on Tuesday and Thursday nights in San Francisco’s trendy SOMA district. At the intersection of 10th and Folsom, the Folsom Street Foundry is a relatively new, astoundingly popular bar that caters to San Francisco’s burgeoning population of geeky twenty and thirty-somethings.
|Early on a Thursday night|
On any given Tuesday or Thursday night, the vast remodeled factory fills to the brim with people playing everything from Beer Pong to Magic: The Gathering. Every type of gamer that can be catered to in a social setting has been. Tournaments, emulators, food, booze and board games are all provided for a $5 entry fee.
|The small bar|
As I enter a group is playing a Santana song on Rockband, a small crowd gathered around them where a large projector showing the game. On my right is a small bar. This entry room is cozy. Here you can check your coat and you’ll find several tables with board and card games for the borrowing. In the back right, there is a Halo 2, two on two tournament going on.
|Only part of a giant library of games|
|Board Games in front Halo 2 in the back|
I follow the other patrons who look like they know where they’re going to an immense back room. This room looks like a factory set from a movie, but this workshop is filled with more modern machinery. On my right dozens of projected games fill every open space on the wall. I recognize Mario Kart 8 and sit down to play a round while seated on a large leather couch, looking up at the screen like I’m in the front row of a movie theater.
|One of the smaller screens|
The most popular video games at the foundry are the ones that have dedicated tournaments. Tuesday night is for Super Smash Brothers, Thursday night for Street Fighter. However, Tower Fall and Gauntlet are also extremely popular and have a strong following of regulars.
Some very focused and somber gentlemen sit playing Starcraft in the corner with headphones on. Not my cup of tea, but there really is everything here.
|The Drink Menu|
|A busy Tuesday night at the Foundry, bar in the back|
To the right of the Starcraft gamers is a very long bar – and the thing that keeps this place running in conjunction with the Foundry’s numerous sponsors. There is also a fantastic food menu, however at the time of publishing the kitchen is down for remodeling. The bartender was very apologetic and said the panini sandwiches are amazing, she swears. (I’ve had them, they are. -Ed) In the interim the current fare is fresh french bread mini pizzas only. Food orders are placed at the bar and then called out at the back of the space by a large red curtain that divides off the kitchen. From the bar to the kitchen, I walk past a long row of around twenty small TV monitors hosting any console game brought from home.
Frequently game developers showcase their kickstarter projects and newly funded board games at the tables directly across the bar. Other tables nearby host people playing Nintendo handheld games via the mobile network and the inevitable large group of Jenja players.
|Winning @ SF Game Night|
There is also beer pong with its questionably sterile ping pong ball. The best part of having beer pong at the Foundry is hearing its over-enthusiastic and intoxicated players commentating Pokemon battles.
|Beer pong @ SF Game Night|
Tips and tricks to have a great night:
– Sign up for tournaments early. Halo’s two on two closes at 9pm, or when 8 teams have signed up.
– Bring your friends! It’s next to impossible to rope people you’ve never met into a two hour game of Settlers of Catan.
– Several gaming stations run emulators for everything from “Aladdin” to “Zombies Ate My Neighbors”. Get there early or wait in line if you want to choose what to play.
– Game nights are busiest from 8:30pm – 10:30pm. Tuesdays are busier than Thursdays.
– Developers can get info on showcasing their indie game at firstname.lastname@example.org
Megan Marie Fox currently lives in San Francisco. Comic-Con is her favorite holiday.
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