Jump into Carson City’s Geek Culture

By Bryan Akerley

It’s been a gloomy week in Northern Nevada. And with temperatures slightly dropping, it feels like summer is becoming fall fairly quickly. It’s true: Change is in the air in our area, but the new season means there’s so much to be excited about (if you ask me, fall might be a better season in Northern Nevada than summer, and this summer’s been jam-packed!). So, in the spirit of change, perhaps it’s time to try something different.


I’ve stated time and time again that Northern Nevada and Carson City in particular have so many events and cultures thriving just underneath the surface — things you wouldn’t even think to exist in this small yet busy city, especially since that surface is brimming with incredible food, nightlife and history. But here we have something entirely new altogether: the Carson City geek community.

Despite the connotations, when I say “geek,” I mean the opposite of uncool. This world, found in hidden strip mall shops and deep within bigger attractions, is fantastic! And even if you’ll never be a fan of tabletop games, video games or collectibles, it’s always a perfect time to experiment and try something new here in Carson City. See for yourself!

Let’s start with something simple and noncommittal. Maybe you’ve been to Carson Lanes a million times, whether it’s for bowling, hitting the 11th Frame Lounge for pool and karaoke or digging into a burger and shake at Johnny Rockets. But you may have only strolled by its arcade — the biggest and brightest in town. Next time, let the blinking lights entice you right into the arcade room for a game of pinball. Or challenge your spouse, kid, best friend, whomever to one of the interactive racing games. When was the last time you tried the claw machine — or won something at the claw machine? Pull out some cash and spend an afternoon as a kid again — the only type of stress-relieving therapy you can pay for in quarters.

Photo: The Quarters Facebook

Let’s say you leave the arcade with a rekindled obsession with classic arcade games. Your next stop is Retro Replay. This little local shop shares your obsession, buying and selling golden-era games and consoles like the Atari and original Nintendo. But more importantly, the shop is a hangout and paradise for techies and video gamers, a place where this devoted crowd discusses the latest games and their first favorites. If you’re new to the culture, you can count on this group to give you the best, most authentic recommendations. Or just stop by, pick up a Sega Genesis and see if you can still beat Sonic the Hedgehog in three hours.

Photo: Retro Replay

You did it? That’s impressive! But you’re so sick of video games, you need something else. At Nerdvana, you’ll get something else. The family-friendly shop features plenty of nerdy collectibles from Star Wars, Star Trek and more, plus everything you need to get into a few tabletop games like Warhammer (the interactive model-building enterprise) or Settlers of Catan (the group strategy board game). For something more social, Nerdvana holds get-togethers for games of Magic, the Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons. Sound a little out-there? Drop by one night to observe; it’s like being in your own fantasy movie or TV show, where you get to make the decisions. You might just have the time of your life.

Similarly, the locally owned Hydra’s Lair across town might be the place to convert you into a weekly role-playing game obsessive. The shop appeals to as many interests as the hydra has heads; the walls are lined with comic books and books that sharpen the strategies of the most seasoned RPG-er. There’s merchandise for Pokemon, collectibles and cards from mainstay franchises like Yu-Gi-Oh and Magic the Gathering as well, and the store opens its doors to newcomers for Dungeons and Dragons twice a week as well. Like these other shops, the crowd here is all about inclusiveness, no matter your level of geek-dom. It’s all about getting together, debating pop culture and having a blast.

Photo: Hydra's Lair Facebook

But what if you’re just looking for some old school, old-fashioned geeky fun? Don’t forget about Dreamwell Comics, the small-town comic shop straight from your childhood. It’s the perfect mix of old and new, with collectible comic variants featured like artwork on its walls and this month’s Batman and Captain America issues for sale as well. There’s surely something to be discovered in the shop’s boxes full of books dating back decades, but you can feel free to just stop by and talk classic superheroes with the shop’s owners, always up for a conversation about, well, anything.

As you can see, the recurring theme among these locally owned stores is obvious. Carson City’s geek culture, the same way superhero movies dominate theaters and comic conventions grow across the country, is becoming so popular that it’s hardly “underground” anymore. What’s more, the people who call this culture their home are just waiting with their arms open for you to stumble in and discover it for yourself. So get stumblin’ this weekend, you might just be surprised.

And for all events this weekend, check out our Daytime, Nightlife and Community pages.

About the Author Bryan Akerley
Bryan was born and raised in Northern Nevada and is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno. When he’s not writing, he’s keeping up with pop culture as a lover of movies, TV, music and books or out exploring the area through its restaurants, bars and nightlife. Then he’ll unwind by playing the drums or piano or spending time with his corgi, Teddy.