Arcade Arena

As a mom to three kids who range in ages from 7 to 13, it can be a little tricky to find ONE family activity that works for everyone – that doesn’t cause fights or boredom or frustration or fights (did I say fights twice? Yeah, that was intentional). It’s a struggle that is real, common, and super craptastically annoying.

But every once in awhile you find a unicorn. A bold, colorful, rainbow-producing badass adventure unicorn that swoops in and saves the day. And that glittery godsend is worth all the hype because she knows exactly how to appease the familial masses with age gap differences.

Last weekend our family discovered one of those rare unicorns in a place called Arcade Arena. And may I just say, in 120 minutes of nonstop play in a small space, my three children did not. fight. once. Hallelujah, praise the unicorn!

So what is Arcade Arena?

While Arcade Arena’s concept and game builds have been in production for three years, the facility in Rosedale Mall just recently opened in November 2022. We were invited to by designers Max and Matt to test out their fresh new space and I am so excited to share it with you.

Arcade Arena is a new “immersive gaming experience” with their only location in Rosedale Mall. You make a reservation online for a 2-hour time slot where you get the full space to yourself for a group of 3-10 people (ideal group size would probably be about 4-6). When you walk in you see a large open room with a few couches and tables, white walls, and a back room where the interactive video game magic happens. Did I say video game? I’m not even sure that’s the right name for what this was. (I say that because my daughter HATES video games – other than Fashion Star in Roblox – and that girl LOVED her time here.)

So how to best describe Arcade Arena? It’s a three-wall touch-screen interactive space with a large retro-looking control panel and a variety of games to choose from. Games are designed with depth-sensing motion trackers and human movements in mind, so you basically ARE the video game. No headsets or face oddities required. You simply select your game, step in to the space, and interact with both the game and each other.

After a short introduction video, we jumped right in to the most physical game they offer – Button Frenzy. Not only did this game make me realize how out of shape I was, but it was SUPER FUN. Everyone is assigned a color and your only job is to tap the wall when your button color shows up. Sounds easy, but when you’re sprinting from wall to wall and clumsily dodging a rabid 13-year old on a mission to dominate his family, it was just hard enough. The competitiveness came out quickly but only once did our youngest sulk over losing. He was a little short to reach all the buttons, but he made up for it with his speed and “jukiness.”

Here is a short vid of Button Frenzy, minus a lot of the sprinting:

There’s a handful of games to choose from for now but Matt told me they plan to release at least one game a month going forward, so they will be building their collection slowly. We played all the games they offered – some were more conducive to our family than others, but we each had a different favorite. Lava Runner is a game where you’re a squirrel who has to dodge a lava flow by moving your body in the right direction. Battle Arena Omega is more of your traditional video game where you use the joystick and buttons to be the last tank standing. Goblin Hunter is a ghosts vs goblins game that uses both the control panel and the interactive floor.

My personal favorite was easily The Heist. This was basically an escape room concept where your team has to work together to try and steal relics and get out of rooms while beating the clock. The concept was a little tricky to figure out for the kids, but once they got it, they were ALL IN. And I have to say, the highlight of the day was hearing them all communicate with each other to get through each room in a controlled and instructional manner. They had to work together – fighting was not an option if they wanted to win. THAT was neat to see as a parent. (Also, I promised them that I would write in this blog that I was the one to blow the heist. I walked into a security camera and set off the alarm and screwed up 39 minutes of hard collaborative work. There. I said it. Hey, a promise is a promise.)

That whole concept of forging alliances and working together is what Arcade Arena‘s designers and staff thrive towards – the ideas of collaboration, communication, teamwork, and fun. And based on the experience we had, they absolutely nailed it! I would bring my family back again and again (and I know they would happily go because when our two hour slot was over, none of them wanted to leave).

Additional Notes

Here are some additional notes that might be handy to know before diving in to the Arcade Arena experience:

  • Ages: I think our 7-year old was pretty much the bare minimum I would go for this adventure. Their website says 8+ but if you have a kid who gets it and is totally in to games, maybe could go slightly younger, but the concepts can be tricky and most of their games are made for older kids and adults.
  • Cost: The 2-hour time slot you reserve gives you full access to the space for your group only and the cost per person depends on your group size. I know it’s not the cheapest activity out there, but for a special occasion, this could be a pretty rad spot to make some memories.
    • 3-5 Participants – $50 per person
    • 6-7 Participants – $40 per person
    • 8-10 Participants – $30 per person
  • Reservations: Make your reservations online and early (at least 48 hours in advance).
  • BYOF&D: Thats my made-up abbreviation for Bring Your Own Food &. Drink. The Arcade offers a mini fridge for items you’d like to bring in. Order a pizza, grab a meal from the Potluck Food Court, bring in Chipotle, whatever floats your boat. It’s nice to be able to have a space to snack and hydrate during your play slot.
  • Birthday Parties: Yes, they offer birthday parties and yes, it would be awesome!
  • Gift Cards: Gift cards are available so if you’re having a hard time coming up with an idea for that hard-to-buy-for dad or teenager, this could be a totally epic present. You can purchase them on their website.

Arcade Arena hours are:
M and W: 4-10pm
T: 12-10pm
TH 3-10pm
F: 12-11pm
SAT: 10am-11pm
SUN: 10am-8pm

Directions to Arcade Arena can be found here.

Our family left Arcade Arena very impressed with the concept and creation, not to mention the kind staff and novelty. Cheesy as it sounds, it brought us closer together that day – communicating as a unit, moving as a team, making decisions that will benefit all vs. one…the overall cooperative experiential takeaway was wonderful and fulfilling. I guess that’s what happens when you find that unicorn in the rough. All good things. All good and glittery things.

If you’re interested in learning more about Arcade Arena or booking your own reservation, visit their website here.

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