Step into The Marina Mall, OMR, and discover the child in you

Chennai: I have never been a gamer. My smart phone is devoid of PUBG or Temple Run or Subway Surf. I am more into reading (Yeah, call me a book worm or nerd, if you like). But that was then and this is now. My experience at the ‘Timezone’, a family entertainment zone at The Marina Mall, OMR, was just incredible.

Dozens of arcade, virtual reality games and dashing cars cover the 11,000 sq ft floor. I was given a gaming card loaded with money which I had to swipe over scanners before playing a game. You get charged around Rs 25 to Rs 50 with playtime running about 5-10 minutes (you can swipe again if you wish to continue playing). The cost and timings differ for each game.

I started with ‘Cruis’n Blast’ – an arcade designed like a racing car. I put on the seat belts and gunned the accelerator. The seat shook. When I swerved the steering left or right (I drove like a drunk man), the seat swivelled in sync. Then, I hopped on to a bike to play ‘MotoGP’. I throttled hard and the seat vibrated in approval. It felt as real as being on a racing track.

I then graduated to ‘Ring Toss’ where you have to throw rings over glowing plastic bottles, played digital snow ball on ‘Lane Master’ – here you throw a ball over a short alley. Once the ball gets swallowed into a hole, the screen overhead shows if the ‘digital ball’ strikes the pin. I also tried my luck with basketball. Every time, the ball slipped into the hoop, the counter rang cheers.

I loved playing ‘Jurassic Park’, an arcade shaped like a jeep. Large screen and gatling gun like joystick replaces the windshield and steering. John William’s iconic theme enveloped me as I buckled up. The game involves players shooting away dinosaurs that chase you down as you escape on a jeep. Your job is to shoot and go trigger happy while the computer takes care to ride over dirt tracks, thick jungles and run down enclosures. Every time I pulled the trigger, the gatling gun vibrated with intensity. Once done, I keyed in the player name as ‘Hammond’ (you know why).

I later walked into the Virtual Reality Zone. I was made to stand over a circular treadmill like surface. My waist was strapped with a Velcro fixed to a firm pedestal. Then I was given two joysticks and donned a VR headset. The world around me shifted into grids and patterns. Did I land in ‘Tron’? The next second, the world flickered and I was playing ‘Red October’, a shooting game where I had to escape from enemies through a street riddled with upturned trucks and petrol cans. I looked at the joysticks. It was digitally transformed into gloved hands holding a glock. I had to walk fast, literally jog, to move through the streets and fire here and there at my ‘digital enemies’.

There are so many games which are sure to make kids excited. ‘Dino World’ spits water when you pull the trigger, aimed at the screen! ‘Crazy Tower’ is a holographic game where you have to carefully construct a building with a moving crane. ‘Treasure Cove’ is a game where you literally use a fishing rod like joystick to haul up treasures. So when you unspool the rod, you can see on screen the rod diving under sea, hooking up fishes or treasures.

Once you finish playing a game , you get ‘orange Timezone ticket’. The higher the points you score, the more tickets you get. I got about 1,600 tickets. With these, I could buy goodies like chocolates, bags, sporting kits, and so many more merchandises. I was like a kid in a candy store! After careful consideration, I settled for a painting kit priced at 1,500 tickets. I still had a hundred tickets left and chose a chocolate box.

It was time to leave Timezone. The song ‘Zero’ by Imagine Dragons from the movie, ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ played in a loop in my head. Just like in the movie, like the kids who come to play arcade game, I was lost in bliss.

Gaming here made me realise that there is a kid in all of us, a child that still gets fascinated by new experiences. And Timezone brings out that child in you.

Mohammed Rayaan