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Press Start: OS is the new hub for NYC gamers and content creators

Recently, I had a chance to meet with Sam Asfahani, the founder and CEO of OS. As the only gaming center of its kind in the area, it’s activating the NYC gaming scene.

We bonded over Civilization VI and played a few rounds of Super Smash Bros cementing the power of connection through gaming.

The Origin Story

I asked Asfahani how he got to this point, creating a space open to gamers and creatives alike.

Before gaming took center stage for Sam, he was a college athlete, and after graduating he continued to work at his university and stayed connected to sports in that way.

Working in sports after graduation was his dream.

“But the one thing that really gave me an itch for it was that I wanted to do it top level. I wanted to work in the industry.”

And his wish came true, after a few years of working he landed an entry-level opportunity at the NBA and stayed there for almost eight years.

There he spent most of his years working in the growing field of esports.

“I developed through the ranks, from marketing to merchandizing into managing our gaming partners. So, I tested our esports pilots across Europe and at that time we saw a lot of investments coming from NBA owners into the industry.”

The NBA 2K League 

This led Adam Silver and the leadership team at the NBA to create a task force in esports.

Sam Asfahani was tapped to move from London to New York head office in order to build the NBA’s strategy for esports.

He ended up designing the NBA 2K League with his team and spent the first year operationalizing and launching it.

“I was their head of content and the executive producer on the first season for it, which was really good fun. And 2K is one of my favorite games and communites.”

While trying to grow the NBA 2K community in NYC, Sam saw a void in community gaming. There were very few places for gamers to congregate despite the huge amount of potential.

“It’s the biggest market in America, and there’s nothing for the community. Nowhere can you congregate. Nowhere can you create great content together. Nowhere can you game together properly.”

OS is born

After realizing this, Sam Asfahani found others that felt that there was an opportunity to positively affect the NYC gaming community.

Those people became his partners and they set out to launch OS, a home for gamers, content creators and the NYC community in general.

As a new pillar in the community Asfahani emphasized the need for inclusivity when opening up the space. Even though as a marketing expert, Asfahani saw the opportunity to generate a successful business, he also saw the importance of keeping the space accessible.

“Everyone knows that a great marketing campaign starts from the grassroots up. You build a community, and then it grows… Then you monetize at some point with different methods. But that wasn’t the vision for this place.

Sam continued,

“We wanted this place to be somewhere people feel safe, people feel accepted. It’s open to everyone and anyone.”


Sam grew up as an inner-city kid in London, so he didn’t want to price out the kid around the corner from Confucius plaza.

Instead, he wanted that kid and eventually every kid in every major inner city to be able to afford hanging out at a place like OS a few times a week.

To make this happen, Sam Asfahani sought out partners and sponsors that supported this vision. Brands also activate at OS for events allowing for both monetization and affordability for the community.

“Our partners are people that allow us to keep it very affordable for everyday people […] You price them out, you’re cutting off a social circle for them. And our partners understand that and that’s why they support us and if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be able to do it.”

Community Lead Events

Most events at OS, however, are community events. They’re extremely supportive of the community and staff-led gatherings.

“Whatever our family here think is needed, we’ll support.”

LGBTQ+ and Gaming

OS hosts an LGBTQ+ networking event once every month run by one of their staff members who wanted to give a home to the queer community in gaming.

The event is not just for socializing and playing together but also to allow members to discuss how to get into gaming for work, how to connect with other members in the industry.


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LGBTQ+ Mixer ~Tuesday 2/11~⁣ ⁣ ❤️♥️⁣ FREE ENTRY⁣⁣⁣ 6:30pm – 10:00pm⁣ $10 Open Play ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ ⁣⁣

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Women in Gaming

Several women’s gaming events and gatherings also take place at OS.

Sam told me about a gathering that is run by successful female Twitch partners in the industry where they discuss gaming industry careers and how to support one another in that field.

OS hosts it’s own women in gaming night with the mission to foster a safe space for female gamers.


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Thank you to everyone who came out to our women in gaming event at #OSNYC! ‍♀️ We’ll have to have another one soon!

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“We do it for women who just wanna talk gaming and be amongst like-minded people in a safe environment.”

Black Gamers

For Black History Month the OS venue manager couldn’t have been happier to shine a light on Black developers who released an indie game to huge success.

The event, sponsored by Playcrafting, was put on to highlight Decoy Games and their founders Khalil and Ahmed Abdullah.

“The thing that I love is that it’s all driven by our staff. I don’t want you to work here if you’re not passionate about it. And our venue manager was very passionate about it and he did the whole thing so we support him.”


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Calling All NYC Gamers

Sam also emphasized that hosting events is also open to members of the community in general.

He highlighted a community member that draws out a minimum of 64 people every Wednesday to play Smash Melee a game on the Nintendo Wii.

“Smash melee is ridiculous, right? It’s on the Nintendo Wii and it’s still going as a game, like people still play it. It’s insane the longevity of that game.[…] But he came to us and said ‘no one does anything for smash melee but people still play this all the time.’ So, every Wednesday night now he does it here.”

OS Studios NYC

All these events and gatherings are possible because of the space the OS has created. With nearly 50 PCs, 10 switches, 10 PlayStations and 10 Xboxes they’re able to run larger-scale tournaments.

“Pretty much every week there’s a tournament happening here, and that’s normally run by people in our community.”

Supporting Content Creators

The equipment also allows for creatives to do what they love.

With a streaming booth and webcams on every PC as well as an ElGato streaming deck, you can go live very easily from every single PC. The consoles are also connected to a broadcast studio on-site.


OS is looking to the future of digital gaming in terms of content creation.

Asfahani shared that OS would like to support the content creation community by helping highlight them on their own platform as well as providing them a space to work.

“The future for us is as a content network. This means that if you’re here and you do something amazing, we’re gonna tell the world about you.”

OS is currently a physical venue but will soon connect with the digital world in a powerful way.

The OS Philosophy


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With the equipment and the vision for activating and connecting the gaming and creative community, OS stays true to Sam Asfahani’s philosophy on sports, esports, and gaming.

“The reason I love sports is the same reason I love gaming and that’s because it’s a great equalizer.”

This is particularly important to Sam because of what it meant and means to him as an inner-city kid of immigrant and working-class parents who went to an affluent university.

“My teammates were mostly white upper-middle-class English. But when you’re on a pitch you’re together and sports is an equalizer. Gaming is the same thing.”


To keep this worldview alive, Sam emphasizes the responsibility that companies like the NBA take up.

“The NBA as a league believes it has a responsibility for social good for bringing people together. I was really proud of that mantra. And gaming has that same responsibility.”

OS is adamant about making sure that the space is available for various types of gatherings. Whether it’s getting a drink with some colleagues after work and playing some Smash or spending your weekend training to become pro.

“We have people that come in and they’re tryna become pro. So they just put their headset on and they just grind for six hours and that’s cool too. It’s designed to be multi-purpose but it’s designed to have the community at heart.”

A Real-Life Connection


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In the end, the goal is to strengthen and grow the gaming community by allowing in-person interaction as well as online networking.

Asfahani emphasized that “It’s never real until you give someone a handshake.” The power of real-life connections will always be important.

Our own meeting marked this.

“It doesn’t matter your gender, your ethnicity or your background. We can vibe because we both love civilization VI and we both probably have completely different upbringings and backgrounds which is fine and civilization VI connects us straight away.”

OS will undoubtedly continue to be and grow as a hub for the gaming community, the creative community and the NYC community as a whole.

When will you visit and press start?