Activate Games

Photo courtesy Activate Games

COVID-19 has stranded many of us at home, where we spend long hours attending Zoom meetings, scrolling through our Facebook feeds and binging on Netflix. Bryce Anderson thinks he has the solution—not to the pandemic but to COVID cabin fever. It’s Activate Games, a business he cofounded last year.

Louisville Future caught up with Anderson recently to learn more about the business and how it’s faring during these strange times.

What is Activate Games?

Anderson: Activate is a live-action gaming experience. You come in with usually 3-5 friends, and there are 10 different micro-arenas in our 12,000-square-foot facility. There are multiple games in each room and multiple levels in each game. It’s almost like you’re put inside a video game.

Are all the games physically challenging?

Anderson: The games are divided into physical, tactile, or mental challenges. We want to engage all people. Some people, even within one group, may be really good at the physical, some people may be really good at hand-eye coordination and some people may be great at trivia.

Who’s your target market?

Anderson: I’d say it’s 10 to 50 or 55 years old. It would be harder for someone who’s 70 to play these games, but my dad, who’s 67, came up with me and my brothers a few months ago, and he loved it. We have a birthday party package and we also do corporate outings, but those are challenging right now because people aren’t at the office.

How were things before COVID-19?

Anderson: We opened in the first week of December and really had a lot of things going. At the end of February we had a lot of schools that were coming through. We basically built out a whole program based on the physical education requirements for elementary, middle, and high school. So we had a lot of momentum going. And then COVID.

How are things going in the new normal?

Anderson: Right now, we’re allowing 10 people every half-hour to come in to our experience; I think it’s like a quarter of our official capacity. We used to allow people to pay when they got there and also pay with cash; now we’re having everyone pay online. We’re cleaning it often. We’re asking people to wear masks.

We don’t know what the fall is going to look like, but if we can be open and have at least some people experience it, that’s better than being closed completely. The goal is to break even until COVID is over. That’s kind of what most businesses we talk to are saying. No one’s trying to be profitable in this time; we’re all just trying to stay alive.

Why is Activate Games in Louisville?

Anderson: I’m based in Lexington, and with Breakout Games (his other company), we have 38 locations around the U.S. from Dallas to Boston. But Louisville we see as our home test market. As it succeeds in Louisville, we expect to grow and open other locations throughout the country. But success in Louisville is the thing we’re working on now.