Virtual gaming

Virtual gaming areas project at Alaska Golf Ketchikan on Tuesday. Staff photo by Dustin Safranek

Dodgeball, hockey, soccer and golf take on a new — virtual — twist at the recently opened Alaska Golf Ketchikan.

Started by five-year Ketchikan resident Matt Burbank, Alaska Golf Ketchikan had its grand opening on April 24.

The business is situated at 422 Mission St., and is dedicated to providing space for interactive, virtual sport gameplay, and relaxation for groups or solo sport.

The Alaska Golf Ketchikan space features five large video game simulation screens and playing areas, including two large private rooms with simulation screens. Up to eight players can run, swing, throw and move in time with the game due to sensors in the ceilings, making for a virtual gaming experience that keeps the player active.

Players also can use special accompanying sports equipment — like the provided bats and dodgeballs — that interact with the games being played on the screens.

During a Friday interview, Burbank told the Daily News that he first was inspired to start Alaska Golf Ketchikan by his long-time appreciation for the sport of golf, which he doesn't often get to play.

"I love to golf," Burbank said. "And I've missed it since I moved up here. And I thought about a simulator business, but didn't think there would be enough people here that could support just golf. And this manufacturer of this simulator actually released a multi-sport platform, so it kind of just went together very well and I think it will be a benefit for Ketchikan. So I just said, 'Yeah, let's do it.'"

Burbank described the goal of his business as to provide "an outlet here to do an activity."

Burbank hopes customers can "come in and have a pizza with their friends and mess around for an hour or two."

"I think it's just an outlet for Ketchikan," he explained. "Something we didn't have since I've been here. I'm active, I like to get out and do stuff, and just going out to dinner — although it's good food around here — I needed something more. So I'm just hoping they can use it for what it's meant to be."

The process of getting the doors open at 422 Mission St. started in January, and went quickly, according to Burbank.

"It's a little stressful, but it's just like anything else, you just kind of walk through it," Burbank said about opening a business.

"It's basically researching the manufacturer, having some design meetings with them, looking at some spaces here in town and then getting the product here is tough — it's from Utah," Burbank said, noting that the game platform was custom-made for the business.

The grand opening of Alaska Golf Ketchikan was held on April 24, and attracted a good crowd of curious customers.

"We had a lot of people just cruising through, checking it out, like Ketchikan people do," he said.

He said the goal of the grand opening was to let people "investigate" the variety of virtual sports that the new outlet offers.

"We just tried to get them into each sport, kind of show them what it can do," Burbank explained. "I think the dodgeball for the little ones has been the most popular so far, because it's something they can do, moms can do it (and) dads can do it."

Other popular game options include disc golf and soccer, Burbank noted.