Low-tech entertainment

There's been a lot of press recently in the location-based entertainment industry about virtual reality as an attraction. Virtual reality (VR) arcades are popping up everywhere. Zero Latency has been expanding. The Void has a number of locations. AMC Theaters just announced a $20 million investment in Dreamscape Immersive VR Centers. The announcements of new VR concepts are coming on a regular basis.

This would have you believe that the future of out-of-home entertainment is high tech. That couldn't be further from the truth. Yes, there definitely is a place for VR as both stand-alone entertainment venues and as an attraction. But VR is not about to displace many forms of classic low-tech entertainment.

And one of those is board games. Yes, those board games we used to play a whole lot at home when we didn't have all the at-home and out-of-home entertainment options we have today. Young adults today are looking for games they can play with their friends, thus the growth of multiplayer games. And the games don't have to be high tech to satisfy this craving.

A great example of how you can combine board games with food and drink and create a great out-of-home social experience is Vigilante gaming bar in Austin, Texas that opened in February. Co-founder Preston Swincher says, “We've built a place where people can take that hobby out of their living rooms.”

Vigilante is divided into two sections, a gaming area with 12 tables that were designed for board gaming, each with a tray and cup holders for food and drink, and a casual dining area with smaller tables for more intimate games, such as cards, along with two large U-shaped booths for group games like Pictionary. There are also two “secret” gaming rooms behind bookcases that can be rented for private sessions.

Vigilante was funded by a Kickstarter campaign. The game library has over 160 games. There is a $5 fee person to play the games. Their gastropub menu features four courses of small plates for $13. The vast majority of players purchase both food and bar drinks while there.

Creating a compelling leisure destination is really about creating a social destination rather than an entertainment one, contrary to what the traditional FEC industry believes. And when entertainment is a part of the mix, it should be social, such as multiplayer games at Vigilante, or other low-tech options like bowling, billiards, etc. And for outdoor attractions, the farmers have it figured out with things as low tech as corn mazes and peddle go-karts at their agritainment and agritourism farm venues. Check out this issue's article about the low-tech at our client's Davis Mega Farm Festival.

Success doesn't require high tech entertainment.