Playgrounds for big kids: Shooting zombies and finding a vaccine at Nerf Action Xperience

NERF Action Xperience in Marina Square welcomes both children and adults. PHOTO: NERF ACTION XPERIENCE

SINGAPORE - My kids and I are shooting at zombies with Nerf guns. I am missing my shots until I point my Nerf blaster, which fires foam darts, mere inches away from the targets. It is satisfying to take down enemies, even those that can't fight back.

To win more points, we have to find a vaccine (so far, so on-trend) that will protect us from the undead/Covid-19/2020.

I run around like a headless chicken until a voice murmurs, "Look beside you", and I pick up a rugby-shaped vaccine.

The game facilitator is using exactly the same low, insistent tones that I employ at treasure hunts at children's parties, when urging little ones to find random stuff I've hidden right in front of their noses.

The roles are reversed at Nerf Action Xperience, an indoor playground in Marina Square that welcomes both children and adults.

Here, my kids, aged 11 and seven, are the pros, while I am the kind of noob who calls IT support when her laptop is not connected to the Wi-Fi. It's a confrontation with the limitations of my ageing body.

Nerf Action Xperience offers far more than Nerf gun battles. We move beyond the Zombie City arena into the Conquer zone, which features climbing walls, ropes courses and obstacle runs, which are a couple of storeys above ground.

We put on helmets and harnesses, with a well-secured rope to tether us to safety.

The Mission Impossible vibes evaporate when I realise I can't get past the climbing frames and webs without my forearms trembling with the unaccustomed exercise. My palms turn too sweaty to hold fast to metal grips and handles.

"Don't look down," Daughter calls out.

I look down.

It is a mistake.

Perched on a ledge, about 12 metres up, I am stuck between an outsized net and an obstacle course with a skateboard attached to a tightrope.

The Conquer zone features climbing walls, ropes courses and obstacle runs. PHOTO: NERF ACTION XPERIENCE

I know I am safe as houses but, looking sideward, I glimpse escalators scrolling up and down lazily, far below. Do I look like an escapee from Cirque du Soleil?

Physical challenges are supposed to help us overcome our fears. But I hug my fear like a chou chou (a colloquial term for a child's sometimes-stinky security blanket). I resolve to never again spout guff about resilience to my kids.

I give up and turn back. But my 11-year-old son, Micah, completes the course. I did not know I had birthed a would-be Olympian but he brushes off my gushy mum praise.

At the Challenge zone, one challenge involves bashing through obstacles as quickly as possible. I am soon face down in a foam pit, where I may have suffocated, albeit very slowly, in a sea of soft, small pyramidal shapes. Luckily, I have the gumption to lift up my head and continue.

I like another game from the traditional Whack-a-Mole genre better. It involves banging on big buttons, which emit squeaks that sound like Stormtrooper gunfire from Star Wars.

The Agility Challenge area. PHOTO: NERF ACTION XPERIENCE

Like the other kids there, pink-cheeked from dashing around, my children love the indoor playground. I refrain from muttering darkly about how "child's play" is a misnomer.

True, I am a woman in middle age who needs more exercise. But why does play have to be quite so effortful? Why do I have to chisel my muscles for fun?

My childhood memories of playing zero point and Pepsi-Cola One Two Three burn ever brighter. I'm glad I grew up in a gentler age.

Pro tip: Concentrate on putting one foot after the other on the high-level ropes course, rather than feeling overwhelmed when you look at how far you have to go.

Nerf Action Xperience

Open: Daily, noon to 8pm

Fee: Ticket prices start from $29

Address: 6 Raffles Boulevard, #01-208 Marina Square

Info: Nerf Action Xperience's website

For more stories on exploring Singapore, go to the SG Go Where page.

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