Is Activate Games the Future of Arcades?

From carnival games, to arcade machines, to escape rooms, interactive amusement attractions continue to evolve. Activate Games in Canada and the US combines elements of virtual and physical play to create an experience unlike anything else I’ve experienced to-date.

Activate Games is an amusement complex with about a dozen different games for groups of two-to-five players. Each game is contained within its own room. The selection of games available provide a number of physical and mental challenges.

One of my favourites is the Laser room. Inside, you’re challenged with maneuvering through an ever-changing series of lasers without breaking any beams. It starts out simple enough, but quickly escalates in difficulty, as you encounter laser sequences that require you to jump, duck, and even move at specific speeds as the laser walls approach you. If you ever wanted to live out the Mission: Impossible dream, this is it!

The Push room challenges players in different ways. Inside, the walls are covered in light-up buttons. One mode challenges you to find a sequence of lights within the rainbow. Another turns off all but a few lights, which you must blow up by planting a certain number of bombs in the right spots to blow everything up at once. Greatly appreciate that a number of games challenge the mind as well as the body.

The most intense room of all was the Super Grid. Within this L-shaped room are buttons along the walls and a light-up floor where every tile is also a button. Within a certain time limit, you must hit all of the blue buttons on the walls and floors while avoiding the moving red tiles. The floor is literally lava in this mode, so be careful!

That’s just a sampling of what Activate Games has to offer. Though we certainly had our favourites, all of the games were fun to play and each provided players with a ton of customization. Every room features multiple game modes, the ability to play either competitively or cooperatively, as well as the ability to choose between 10 different difficulty settings. Regardless of your group’s preferences, you can tune the experience to best suit your needs.

Everything about your experience is tracked on a wristband. You’ll use it to scan into every room. It will also let you know how much play time you have left. You’ll pay upfront for 75 minutes of playtime, which is more than enough to at least sample every room. You can also pay for more time in 30-minute increments. Though we wanted to play more, Steff and I were exhausted after the initial 75-minute window.

One neat aspect of the user experience is that the experience is largely automated. After you buy time at the front desk, everything from resetting the games, to managing the flow of players through rooms is automated. You might have to stand in a line to get into a room, but everything is automated in such a way that groups never see each other as they enter or exit the room. And if no one is waiting for the room you’re in, you can keep playing with the push of a button.

Combining elements of physical and virtual play, Activate Games is one of the coolest new attractions out there. In a way, each game makes you feel like you’re partaking in a activity you’d find on a competitive reality show like The Amazing Race. If you happen to be nearby one of the four locations within the United States and Canada, I would highly recommend giving it a shot!

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2 thoughts on “Is Activate Games the Future of Arcades?

  1. Tex Hooper February 16, 2022 / 7:05 PM

    You make a great point about playing games according to the group’s preferences. I want to take my wife out to an arcade to play games. It think it would bring out the nostalgia of the 90’s.

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