Mayor Greg Fischer may tout Louisville as a “Compassionate City,” but a local organization has another goal in mind for our identity. Members of Nerd Louisville want us to be a “Nerd City,” too.
Nerd Louisville was founded in the summer of 2015 by Mike Pfaff and Andy Bates to help connect the “active community of people interested in all types of nerdy activities in Louisville,” according to its website.
Board member Devon Breithart tells Insider the organization started with a website that helped fellow RPG-ers connect with each other. It soon expanded to include fans of complex, strategic board games — not family games like Life or Monopoly.
Soon, she says, Nerd Louisville plans to expand into other activities that appeal to nerd enthusiasts — like comic book collecting, anime fandom, etc.
One of the things that sets Nerd Louisville apart is that it is not just a group of gamers — it also has a philanthropic arm.
The kid-focused part of their philanthropic arm is called Next-Gen Nerds, and it raises money to provide gaming supplies and STEM education materials to underserved youth via organizations like the Cabbage Patch Settlement House, the Boys and Girls Club of Kentuckiana and the Louisville Free Public Library, and through schools with large populations of students on free or reduced lunch programs.
Recently, Breithart says, the organization found a project on the website DonorsChoose — where teachers can crowdfund various projects for their classrooms — that was launched by a teacher from Kenwood Elementary. A STEM teacher who also ran the computer lab was trying to raise money for a small makerspace, and it looked like the crowdfunding effort was on the verge of failure.
Nerd Louisville stepped in and provided all the materials on the teacher’s wish list.
The group also paid for an underprivileged student to attend ClubScienceKidz, a STEM camp in Louisville, this past summer. And recently, it paid for a middle school orchestra to go see the a show at a planetarium.
The organization’s biggest fundraiser, Nerdlouvia, is coming up this weekend, Nov. 18-19. It’s a two-day convention dedicated to RPGs and board games. This year is the second year for the event.
Last year’s was held at GenScape and sold out with around 100 attendees. This year’s event is being held at the Tim Faulkner Gallery. Breithart says she expects around 400 attendees, as 200 tickets have already been sold.
While attendees will be provided with wristbands so they can come and go from the event, which stretches into the late-night hours, “a lot of people will stay the whole time,” she says. “We have a bar, food trucks, the coffee shop in the gallery.” There also will be video games and booths featuring merchandise from local gaming shops.
So far, Nerd Louisville has raised more than $5,000 this year. All proceeds from Nerdlouvia will help fund the nonprofit.
Nerd Louisville has other regular events as well. The invitation to the bi-monthly “Slur Your Roll” reads: “Join Nerd Louisville for a night of role-playing and boozing in the belly of Kaiju on Oak Street as we pursue our mission of making Louisville the most awesome nerd city in the universe.” That event runs 4-8 p.m. every other Sunday and features several organized RPGs.
Concerned you’re too old or too stubborn to learn how to play these complex games?
“It’s really friendly to beginners — very open,” says Breithart. And even if you’re too intimidated to participate, “it’s worth observing. It’s really fun to watch.”
Board member Squire Greene hosts a weekly event called Game Knights (get it? Squire … Knights) on Mondays at Kaiju, and it is entirely board-game-focused and runs from 7-11 p.m.
There are no membership requirements to be a part of Nerd Louisville. There are six board members and a number of regular volunteers. All you have to is visit the website and sign up for the message board to keep on top of events.
Insider asked Breithart about the gender breakdown of the events, and she says it definitely skews male, but the group has a policy against games that are exploitative to women and other minorities. She adds that she always feels “safe and included.”
Nerdlouvia will take place at the Tim Faulkner Gallery from noon-1 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18, and noon-6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19.
Weekend passes are $30, and single-day admission is $20 on Saturday and $15 on Sunday. You can purchase tickets online.
This story has been corrected.