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Kid Games 

Just because you've reached adulthood doesn't mean you can't have fun

click to enlarge Brian Meier shoots a Nerf gun at Xtreme Arena, where adults can get in on the fun. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Brian Meier shoots a Nerf gun at Xtreme Arena, where adults can get in on the fun.

Childhood games are no longer just for the young. Remember steering clear of flying rubber balls during P.E. dodgeball? Sky High Sports brings the hand-eye-coordination-necessary game to greater heights with trampoline dodgeball. Meanwhile, Xtreme Arena lets you target your friends and family with Nerf gun darts in a paintball-like atmosphere, and the newly opened Jedi Alliance offers the area's largest selection of arcade games.

While many fun centers across the country are catering to adults by adding booze, all three of these out-of the-way locations pride themselves on being alcohol-free, family-friendly destinations. People can rent out the spaces for 21+ parties, but the intention is for grown-ups and kids to enjoy themselves under one roof.

JEDI ALLIANCE

2024 E. Boone • Facebook: Jedi Alliance Spokane

Here in the cathedral, pinball machines stand atop what was once an in-ground baptismal font. In all, 50-plus blinking and flashing (mostly saved from destruction) arcade games — X-Men, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Tron, Space Invaders, Star Wars and so many more — line the walls of the old Methodist church sanctuary, while a gift shop and action figure/movie theme display flows through the rest of the unassuming yellow building.

Jedi Alliance owners and brothers Tim and Tyler Arnold have taken that church concept and run with it.

Open since January, approximately 60 to 80 players funnel through the space each Sunday from 5 to 10 pm ($10 gets you unlimited play), to buzz around the room and relive memories. Many bring their kids, too.

The Arnolds, who work full time in the tattoo industry, call their one-day-a-week business a pop-culture-type church, but not a religion: "We are not tax-exempt here," Tyler says.

The goal is to create an open clubhouse of sorts, where all people feel welcome.

"But even if no one else showed up, we'd still be here hanging out," Tim says. "This is my life."

SKY HIGH SPORTS

1322 E. Front • skyhighsports.com

He'd heard of the five D's — dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge, from the film Dodgeball — but Tyler Gyllenhammer wasn't prepared for the sweat-inducing, timing-tricky game of trampoline dodgeball. When he and a group of friends showed up to Sky High Sports for their first tournament three years ago, they mostly liked the possibility of winning cash and free jump time, he says. While his team, Ballsagna (pronounced cheekily like lasagna), placed in the top three that day, that's about all he can recall.

"I just remember the next day, I couldn't move, I was so sore," says Gyllenhammer, an athletic 20-year-old Eastern Washington University student who also played spring football last year.

After that, his team played in the monthly tournaments, often placing second, but never first.

"It was so frustrating," he says.

During regular business hours, anyone can play dodgeball (12 per team), and the court often has the longest line in the cavernous warehouse space, which has been open for nearly six years. College-age and older players tend to show up on Wednesdays, as well as Friday and Saturday nights for glow-in-the dark cosmic night games ($15, 9 pm-midnight).

Now a court monitor at Sky High Sports, Gyllenhammer can no longer participate in the dodgeball tournaments, which are $60 a team, but that doesn't stop him from playing on his off days.

He says as soon as he left his team, they started placing first.

"It probably was me," he admits with a smile.

Sky High's next dodgeball tournament is April 28.

click to enlarge Bryan Howell shoots a Nerf gun at Xtreme Arena. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Bryan Howell shoots a Nerf gun at Xtreme Arena.

XTREME ARENA

1521 N. Thierman Road, Spokane Valley • xtremearenausa.com

Every group, no matter how mature, has to go through the Xtreme Arena safety spiel in order to get their team jersey, goggles and Nerf blasters. Today, co-owner James Almond explains to a bunch of birthday party-goers that there's to be no face shooting, hand-to-hand combat or running over the inflatable bunkers.

"You should aim for each other's butts," Almond says, to the laughter of the kids.

But once out on the black turf court, adrenaline kicks in and rules are sometimes forgotten. About 20 preteens and their parents run and dart behind bunkers, picking up from among the 300-some Nerf darts that are strewn around the ground to shoot at one another. Games like Deathmatch and Capture the Flag, led by the floor arena DJ, keep everyone boisterous for two hours.

"When it's all adults out there, it's even more serious," Almond says.

One guy even ran into part of a wall and dented it.

Almond says that in owning the Nerf gun range facility, a business model that's grown popular nationally in the past decade, he's probably now living out his repressed childhood. As a kid, he never had Nerf guns. He recalls shooting BB guns maybe twice, and didn't use actual guns until he joined the Army. But in September, the 38-year-old, along with his wife Beatrice, opened up Xtreme Arena in a 10,000-square-foot Spokane Valley warehouse.

"Any chance to play out there, I will," Almond says. "This is a great alternative to paintball. It doesn't hurt, usually."

Admission is $10 during the weekend, $6 during the week, free with a military ID. ♦


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