Technology key for teenagers

24 September 2022 - 10:29

Social media and innovative experiences are the way to win over young adults

Written by Steven Carson / Intergame
 Foto © Erfan Pashangpour / Unsplash

Foto © Erfan Pashangpour / Unsplash


Some entertainment centres focus on appealing to whole families, but others are more geared toward teenagers and young adults. Even if not the entire venue is, there are at least areas and features that are put there to appeal to that specific demographic.
It is evident there are an increasing number of entertainment centres that offer axe-throwing, such as Urban Axes, bars (that serve alcohol) lined with arcade machines, such as Nq64 and even less traditional forms of paid-for amusement, such as escape and rage rooms. That is not to say families cannot enjoy these things, but there is quite clearly a target in mind when taking a look at the websites of these companies.

Similar could be said of the more traditional family-orientated forms of entertainment, such as bowling and mini-golf, which can absolutely be enjoyed by people of all ages and indeed versions of these games can be altered to appeal to certain demographics.


TECHNOLOGY - Technology really is key for fun things moving forward; while cashless technology is a given at this point, there is a notable increase in virtual (VR), augmented (AR) and mixed reality experienced.
On Vr, there are few companies placed as well as Inowize to talk on the topic. The Romania-based creator of Vr experiences and solutions believes it has recently perfected its six-player Arkadia Vr Arena, which has a not-so-insignificant number of teenagers and young adults enjoying it, Inowize reports.
“They are looking for meaningful engagement in a group,” said a spokesperson for the company. “Competitive experiences are important to them and Arkadia VR Arena answers to those needs.”
One feature that is offered by Arkadia, which somewhat sticks out, is something that offers an added replay-ability element to games – a scoreboard. Teenagers and young adults can be picky when it comes to choosing what activies they would like to spend their time and money on, simiarlly but perhaps more selectively than families looking for general escapism or admittedly, an hour of peace with their kids entertained. Replay-ability is a big thing for this in-between demographic, and including scoreboards and other such social aspects in products like those offered by Inowize and similar companies, such as Triotech, can keep customers coming back for more.
The aforementioned Triotech promises to keep up repeat custom in a different way, however, that focuses less on the gaming aspect. Christian Martin, the Canadian company’s vice president of communications, said: “Fresh content is essential.” Triotech’s interactive Vr simulator, The Storm, offers exclusive content developed in-house. Going forward the company plans to release more content on its platform, as is evident by the Typhoon coin-operated game that has received numerous updates. “This means that new content is made available over time,” added Martin. “This, on top of driving re-plays, brings repeat visits to the Fec. Repeat visits, coming back on another day, are different than re-plays, the same visit. Repeat visits bring a larger amount of revenues to operators as guests will play several games and might consume food and beverages.”


SOCIAL MEDIA - It would be fair to say social media plays a huge role in the popularity of forms of entertainment, particularly for younger people. From children showing their parents something they’ve seen advertised on YouTube, to teenagers spending their pocket money on products shown on TikTok or Snapchat, to young adults utilising platforms like Instagram, Tripadvisor or even Google to find venues with positive reviews to visit with their friends or partners – online marketing has never been more important for businesses.
As simply put by Triotech’s Martin: “If a teenager sees a video of people having fun with a particular ride or attraction, of course they’ll want to experience it too.” That is certainly one way to get people through the front door of an entertainment centre, but how does a company go about actually getting its products in front of the eyes of young people? It’s somewhat straightforward: make the product “Instagrammable” – that is to say, make a product or feature appealing to the point that people will want to share pictures or videos of it with their friends online. There are a few ways this can be achieved; two are to make the attraction aesthetically appealing or have it require its users do something funny or interesting.
Blacklight Attractions is a specialist in creating dark rides, mini-golf attractions, escape rooms, and a host of other fun stuff. One way the company aims to get its products featured on the timeline of young social media users is through design choices. “People love our retro golf because of the theming,” said Larry Kirchner, Blacklight’s president. “Teenagers have been coming by to use the facility to create TikToks,” he continued, and that should come as no surprise. “Retro” themes, that now includes but not limited to the 1970s and ‘80s, are big at the moment. We can look toward popular Tv shows like Stranger Things, Sex Education and The Umbrella Academy for those to thank for that.
Appealing to contemporary interests can boost an attraction’s… well, attraction, and that is surely a no-brainer, but it is worth highlighting as it ties into the larger conversation about social media we’re having. In the modern era, for many young people, it’s about sharing things on social media to show-off to their friends and followers. And that isn’t a criticism of those social media users; it’s merely a sign of the times.


CUSTOMISATION -  Being able to offer a custom experience is also important, particularly with a personal touch. That is to say things that are relevant to the individual player, not just a theme that has proven popular with a demographic that person falls into. Laserforce offers something to that end, giving players a chance to customise the hardware used in a game of laser tag. “Trends that we are noticing are revolving around earning special achievements and awards,” said Rohan Kelly, chief operator officer. “Laserforce has the best membership program in the world, and our members can unlock new achievements and gain customisable traits to their Battlesuits. We see our teenage and younger players expressing themselves with a variety of content like avatars, code names, and graphics that really it unique to their style.”
Laserforce, a specialist company in laser tag games, boasts innovation by offering modern twists on classic games – if indeed laser tag falls under that label, which this writer assumes it now does in 2022. Laserball, a combination of a typical laser tag game and association football (soccer), offers an interesting way to enjoy aspects of both activities. “We are finding that teenagers and young adults are drawn to Laserball because of the fast pace and teamwork needed to win the game,” Kelly explained. “The demographics for laser tag show that nearly 40 per cent of our customers are teenagers and young adults; we know these players love to try new things and discover everything laser tag has to offer. The appeal for players starts with Laserforce’s award-winning Battlesuit and its lighting, sound, and display capabilities that allow players to feel truly emerged in a game of a futuristic game of football and lasers.”


TWISTS ON CLASSIC GAMES - Laserforce’s initiative takes us nicely into a wider trend that has cropped up in recent times – modern twists on classic games. From golf, mini or otherwise, to bowling, there are numerous ways to bring these age-old experiences into the modern era. Hologate’s Hyper Golf is one such example, adding a VR element into golf. While not specifically aimed at the teenage-to-young-adult audience, the natural appeal speaks for itself. Utilising its technology, Hyper Golf puts users onto hugely conceptualised holes with “themes, music, and effects that will appeal to teenagers and young adults,” explained Gregg Katano, senior vice president at Hologate. These themes include – but are not limited to – space, pinball, DJs and monsters. Adding a modern twist to mini-golf creates an entirely new experience, with new technology, Hologate has been able to completely transform the beloved game. Leif Petersen, the company’s Ceo, said: “For over 100 years, there hasn’t been much innovation applied to the game of miniature golf. Recently, a few companies have attempted to give the game an “update” by incorporating lighting or sound effects, but in the end the game has essentially remained the same classic game. Our goal was to infuse the future into the beloved classic.”

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