ALBANY — Simply setting foot inside Lucky Strike Social’s new Modern Round virtual shooting lounge is an out-of-mall experience unlike what the entertainment venue is already known to provide.
After signing in, a visitor walks through a massive lounge surrounded by 14 living room environments complete with sofas, coffee tables and a mind-blowing 12-foot wide by 6-foot tall projection screen. What you don’t see is an equally impressive “quadraphonic” sound system that, once you step into your respective space, closes you off from the rest of the world.
“The environment we have here with the Modern Round Virtual Shooting experience is that you get to come in and do something you may feel comfortable doing at home,” said Jim Bennington, National Games and Redemption Manager at Lucky Strike Social. But, playing at home, he said “it’s not very social, it’s not very outbound or engaging. Here, in this environment, we have the opportunity to bring our guests in, offer them a food and beverage setting, a comfortable, casual and safe environment, and to try something they have never done before.
The next level. This isn’t just a video game, it’s a full-immersion experience.”
Lucky Strike Entertainment only just announced its partnership with the Arizona-based Modern Round entertainment company. This attraction, which opened Tuesday, Oct. 24, is the first of its kind for Modern Round in New York.
Using state-of-the-art technology, Modern Round delivers an adrenaline-pumping experience for thrill-seekers centered around a simulated shooting experience that utilizes laser technology-based replica firearms with the look, feel and weight of real firearms, in a safe, upscale lounge environment. The concept first launched in Arizona in July of 2016. Its newest location within Lucky Strike Social Albany will feature 14 lounges, each equipped with a hit-detection camera, projector and four replica firearms — two pistols and two rifles.
“What we have is an arcade on screen. The difference with us is we take a replica firearm and use that as our controller to navigate through the games,” said Matt Smyth, Modern Round’s president of restaurant operations.
The irony of surrounding entertainment around a firearm in a mall that only last year experienced a shooting incident is not lost on anyone. It still doesn’t take away from the fact that gamers are drawn towards guns. Games like Call of Duty and Halo continue to draw the largest sales in the home gaming industry. And, with that, there is an opportunity for both business and education.
As visitors get comfortable in their respective living space, staff members present the replica firearms in a protective suitcase, following direction on how to use the firearm properly. There are no projectiles or bullets, the guns are no threat to anyone in the building. But, it’s a step that has already drawn the respect of local law enforcement.
“We’re very sensitive to that,” said Guilderland Police Deputy Chief Curt Cox. The owner of Lucky Strike Social invited the police force to the restaurant to present the new attraction. Deputy Cox said it gave his force the opportunity to provide feedback as well as observe the logistics surrounding the gaming environment. “For years, we’ve talked about what kids should do when they find a gun, and what they’re supposed to do is not touch it. … We talk about treating every gun like it is loaded. … Maybe where they may have some education missed at home… but, when you go there you are getting a piece of gun safety. Which I think is a very important part of the whole program.”
With over fifty drills, missions and games designed for all experience levels, Modern Round offers custom titles of life-like and immersive scenarios that are updated on a regular basis. Guests can test their aim during skill drills and target practice, play games that find them hunting ducks, slaying zombies and performing rescue missions, or engage in live-action simulations carefully crafted by subject matter experts to heavily test the guests’ critical thinking, firearms skills under pressure and psychological preparation. A safety video is also built into Modern Round’s interface, and each guest must watch the video before being admitted into the shooting lounge.
Each shooting lounge at Lucky Strike Social in Albany can accommodate six guests for hour-long increments. Prices vary by day and time, but range from $25 to $45 per hour for the lounge, excluding a $5 annual membership fee each guest must purchase from Modern Round. Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.