Climbing wall at Activate Games in Oakbrook, Illinois, featured in Enter the Game at Activate.

A gaming facility that incorporates video game play with physical activity? Yes, please! Get off the couch and into Activate Games, a new state-of-the-art venue in Oak Brook, Ill., that offers 10 exciting rooms outfitted with high-tech interactive games to challenge mental and physical prowess. Choosing from hundreds of combinations of games and difficulty levels, groups can use teamwork skills and form strategies to complete challenges that last 2-3 minutes each—for a total of 75 minutes of gameplay—while scores and progress are tracked on players’ electronic wristbands. Teams can be from 2-5 players, and the Oak Brook facility accommodates up to 22 teams (88 players) at once.

Game rooms are named after activity—Mega Grid, Mega Laser, Pipes, Push, Hoops, Hide, Control, Grid, Arena, and Climb, with an eleventh room, Strike, opening later in Summer 2023. Memorization, speed, accuracy, coordination, communication, and agility all come into play as teams engage in variations of dodgeball, basketball, and wall-climbing, and use fancy footwork to navigate lighted floor-squares and laser mazes. Players are welcome to visit as many or as few rooms as they like, and they have the option to re-try or continue gameplay in each room by pressing a green button to reset the game instead of exiting.

Game room at Activate Games in Oakbrook Illinois, featured in Enter the Game at Activate

Depending on participants’ goals, more casual eventgoers can focus on cooperative play and rearrange groups whenever they wish, to mingle and focus on teamwork, whereas more competitive gamers can stay in their formed teams and compare scores when gameplay is complete. With results tracked on wristbands, which can be scanned at kiosks in the venue’s hallways, players can view their rank, see scores achieved per game, and discover their standings on the global scoreboard across facilities.

Employees at Activate Games in Oakbrook Illinois, featured in Enter the Game at Activate

Upon entry to Activate, an employee advised my group that the water fountain was going to be our best friend throughout our session, and she wasn’t wrong! Even after just a few quick games of frantically stomping on blue squares in Mega Grid, we were running to the water station to sip from fountains and fill plastic cups from the water dispenser. Not having to carry around water bottles or gear with us, we were blissfully unburdened—we had conveniently stowed our backpacks and sweatshirts in the lobby’s lockers, which we could open and close using the blue electronic locker wristband assigned to us.

Each participant in my group had different favorite rooms after exploring them all. The super-agile (and shorter) tweens loved hitting the deck to avoid laser sequences in Mega Laser and traversing the wall of touch-sensitive handholds in Climb. The teenager and I loved hurling satisfyingly squishy mini dodgeballs at hexagon targets in Arena. In Pipes, it took our team a few tries to figure out the best way to communicate across the four aisles of pipe openings. We were eventually able to develop a strategy that assigned everyone a different role and maximized our speed and efficiency in moving the ball from pipe to pipe. A fan-favorite was Control, where from individual, elevated pedestals you are tasked with jumping and running in place, quickly selecting colorful buttons on your dashboard, and pressing directional arrows in an increasingly rapid sequence.

Designed for adults, the games are especially mentally and physically challenging for those younger than 10 years of age—teens and adults are the recommended age group for the activity levels. Many games encourage players to throw, run, crawl, jump, or climb, and incorporate music, sound effects, and special lighting to intensify excitement and kick-start adrenaline. Smiling, cheering, laughing, and sweating were all part of the experience.

“It was so fun that you couldn’t even tell you were working out!” exclaimed one tween after an evening at Activate. Her brother voiced his excitement and approval of the facility with, “Okay, I’m totally having my birthday party here!”

Basketball game at Activate Games in Oakbrook Illinois, featured in Enter the Game at Activate

Activate makes it easy to turn your visit into a party. The Lounge at the venue is a private event space for celebrations, meetings, or meals (bring in food or have your event catered) and accommodates up to 30 people.

Open to the public on May 15, 2023, the Activate location in this western suburb of Chicago is now the fifth U.S. city to house this innovative entertainment concept (Oak Brook’s is the second-largest venue of them all), with other locations in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Texas. This newest location is at 1600 16th Street, Unit 6, in Oak Brook, Ill., and is open Sunday through Thursday from 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.

The cost of $24.99 per person grants access to the full facility for up to 75 minutes. Book online or call (630) 756-7563 to reserve a spot; walk-ins are welcome, although entry is subject to availability. Activate requires a ticketed adult accompanying children 10 years old and younger, and for children between the ages of 11-13, an adult must be present on site throughout the gaming experience.

An exhilarating change-up from laser tag, axe-throwing, and other social sport outings, Activate Games encourages movement and communication that’s fast-paced, exciting, and high-tech. Be the first to introduce this thrilling, brand-new venue to your friends and colleagues, and book a session today!


Photos courtesy of Alison Ramsey.


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