GTPulse: Escape Virtual Reality at The War Zone in Traverse City

As safety restrictions loosen and more get vaccinated every day, we inch closer back to a world that looks more familiar than the one we’ve been in for the past year. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how I want to spend my time. Living in a vacation town can feel like there’s an endless amount of things to do. Matthew Elliott, co-owner of The War Zone is hoping folks will try something new as things get back to normal.

Just over a year ago he and his business partner David Batdorf opened up The War Zone in Traverse City. They elevated their love for video games by creating a nerf gun course where different video game scenarios can be played. Players get to experience their favorite games in an immersive reality along with friends, family, or a team.

“We have adult teams of four that show up every Saturday and Sunday. There are tournament games and exhibitions where teams will earn points for winning games or betting other teams. They use those points in our custom app to unlock other perks that other players might not have unlocked yet and that gives them an advantage.”

This isn’t Matthew’s first time as a business owner. He initially opened up The War Zone in his already existing MMA training gym. Last February The War Zone opened up in its own space and had a month of normalcy as a new business before the pandemic struck and turned everyone’s world upside down.

“It was the best thing that could happen for our future customers because it gave us nothing but time to make the facility as cool as we possibly could and get all of our different plans in place.”

They’ve remained steadfast in their commitment to the business, and a year later are still standing with a loyal customer base. They’ve recently won $500 from a TC New Tech competition that will be used towards furthering the business. 

It’s no surprise to me that The War Zone is thriving. There’s been a rise in computer and video game downloads since the start of COVID-19. People seek creature comforts in challenging times and video games are a perfect distraction. They’re both a return to nostalgia and an escape from reality, two things we all desperately want in these strange times. As we begin to get back out into the world, the idea for combining virtual and physical reality is sure to be an attractive one.

“It’s essentially a real-life video where you get to level up. It engages the body and the mind. We have a few crossfitters that also come play on our adult league play team. Sometimes they’ll wear their FitBit or their heart rate monitor. They’re burning just as many calories as they do in a regular workout.”

The War Zone is able to hold a capacity of 24 people. There are open plays on Friday, Saturday and Sunday that are available to groups under six and are on a first come first serve basis, with members getting priority.  Members get discounted rentals, play rates, and other perks. Parties of six or more should be booked in advance and are available Thursday through Sunday. They’re a great way to have fun with birthdays, work outings, or other gatherings. For more information, check out The War Zone’s website

“We’ve had everyone from 7 to 75-year-olds and everybody loves it.”

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Categories: GTPulse