By Trevor Christian
STONY BROOK, NY — February 14, 2014
Stony Brook University may have a new Valentine’s Day tradition.
The Stony Brook Gamers Guild hosted the first Nerd Fest on Friday at the Student Activities Center (SAC). Games, live performances and peanut butter and banana sandwiches took center stage on a day that typically places the spotlight on couples and romantic evenings.
Danielle Lewandowski, a founding member of the club who now serves as its president, organized the event and chose the date. She said that the decision to hold the event on Valentine’s Day came from her wanting to provide “a really nice alternative” to traditional plans for singles and couples alike.
Most guests arrived with friends, but Amelia Perdomo and Danny Acevedo were one of the few couples to opt for Nerd Fest over a traditional date. The pair played the party game Cards Against Humanity and made a love potion with the Harry Potter fan club Dumbledore’s Army.
“We spend time together enjoying whatever,” said Acevedo. “It doesn’t have to be something cliché.”
Nerd Fest drew many of its guests through Lewandowski’s recruiting of other campus organizations. Each was given a table set up around the perimeter of the room to showcase what they had to offer prospective members. Lewandowski said she decided to involve so many clubs– 17 including her own were listed on fliers for the event — so that their members could discover similar groups on campus.
“If you belong to something, you’re much more happy to be on campus,” she said.
John Peniera arrived at Nerd Fest hoping to attract new members to Animated Perspectives, the anime fan club on campus of which he is vice president. The table his club set up featured one television playing anime, another hooked up to a Nintendo Wii, and a number of manga books. A large stuffed Pikachu served as a conversation piece.
“It’s like another type of involvement fair for us,” Peniera said.
Peter Taisler, an organizer for Stony Brook’s game of Humans vs. Zombies, came with the same goal in mind. He used a large stuffed banana with glittering pink lips to attract attention to his table and had decent luck. More than a dozen people had signed up in the first hour.
“Considering that without Gamers Guild putting this all together we probably wouldn’t have gotten those people, it’s really nice,” said Taisler.
He said that the event had done better last semester than it had in a while and is hoping that the upswing will continue.
Of the people who filled half of SAC Ballroom A, many were members of at least one of the organizations with tables. But what Lewandowski didn’t expect was how many people came who were not affiliated with any of the clubs.
“I’m shocked at how big it is,” Lewandowski said.
She said she envisions Nerd Fest being an annual event at Stony Brook. She won’t be around to organize the next one, though.
“I’m graduating this year, so it’s going to be up to the next e-board to take care of it,” Lewandowski said, referring to the Gamers’ Guild’s executive board that will be elected this Spring. “I believe in them,” she added.