FEATURE: Ready to Rumble?
Rumble Live was created in 2019 by Billy and Jacquie Rumble, inspired by the video games loved by their three sons. The couple realised the potential of an outdoor shoot ’em up attraction, incorporating gameplay from paintballing with the non-contact, pain-free elements of laser tag to offer a realistic video games experience. Bryony Andrews, editor of GlobalAmusementsandPlay.com, caught up with Jaquie Rumble to find out more.
Where is Rumble Live based?
We’re located at Grafham Water just off the A1 in Cambridgeshire [UK], so although we don’t tend to get people travelling from as far as Scotland, it is very easy to reach by car. Grafham Water has lots of other outdoor amenities too, so people are willing to travel from further afield, combine it with a walk, picnic or some of the more exhilarating activities at Grafham Water and make a full day of it.
What do players experience when they visit Rumble Live?
The site is eight acres in total, which consists of three different playable arenas. Each arena has its own gameplay and missions set by the Rumble Rangers, so we get a lot of repeat visitors.
We are constantly evolving our mission scenarios and designing new ones. The games are very expansive and ‘non-linear’ so gamers experience something different with every visit. We tend to start with a simple two-team mission with automatic respawns before adding in more dimensions in the subsequent battles. VIP take down, hostage rescue and ‘infected’ (a zombie mission) combined with old favourites, like capture the flag, form a long list of possible missions.
The kill streaks and utility boxes add an exciting new level of gaming inspired action. Almost a hundred different weapon types can be unlocked – from pistols to mini-guns, rocket launchers to sniper rifles – while killstreaks can trigger fire missions on your enemy, including artillery, air strikes and helicop helicopter gunships! The sound of all that stuff going on really makes you feel like you’re immersed in a Call of Duty mission!
Who is the target visitor demographic for Rumble Live?
All of the gameplay and missions are suitable for adults and children aged eight and above, which is quite a broad demographic. We have grandparents who come along because they know their grandkids will love it and they end up enjoying it as much as the kids! Because it is non-contact and pain free, unlikely paintballing, it has a much broader appeal. We get groups of adults, families, teenagers and kids and cater for everything from children’s birthday parties to stag and hen groups!
In terms of marketing, because it is such a unique attraction, we tend to get people who have visited recommending it to friends and family. Also, we work closely with local news outlets as our core customer demographic are generally within an hour’s drive. We tried to make sure our website reflects the experience as closely as possible by showing video footage of the experience.
What technology and equipment do you use to ensure guests have an authentic ‘video game’ experience?
We have state of the art laser rifles, which are incredibly accurate to offer a realistic experience. Everyone receives the Battle Rifle, which has a range of over 200 metres and pin-point accuracy. Better weapons and respawns can also be unlocked through kill-streaks or by scavenging the land for the hidden utility boxes. The Battle Rifle Pro is rarer, more deadly and features a realistic recoil. A Rumble Grenade, with a three metre blast radius, is effective at taking out a cluster of targets.
We are also introducing a new, optional element to gameplay this autumn which will be a wristband that gives a small shock whenever you’re hit, for adults who want an even more immersive gameplay experience.
What makes you stand out from similar attractions like paint-balling or lasertag?
Although Rumble Live takes gameplay elements from both, we tried to make the experience as inclusive as possible. Paintballing is known for causing some pain; it’s not for everyone but we liked the fact that it’s outdoors. Laser tag is great fun, but usually indoors. We realised there was a gap in the market to create something taking the best of both and combining it with video game features in a beautiful outdoors setting.
What strategies do you use to encourage repeat visits?
We have a lot of repeat visitors. The different gameplay and mission types encourage people to come back after their first visit and try something new. Also, we find that people who have been as a family will then come with friends or book a birthday party with us. We also have leaderboards, so the competitive streak in many makes them want to come back and beat their friends and family!
How has COVID-19 affected you, financially and otherwise? What measures are you putting in place to safeguard guests?
Rumble Live has actually been a very popular attraction throughout the pandemic. The fact that it’s open air, has weapons ranges of over 200 metres and spans eight acres makes it very easy to keep people a safe distance apart. We had to close for a number of weeks initially, as per the government guidelines; when we reopened we removed any melee combat elements from gameplay, we sanitise equipment between each session and limit participant numbers per session to keep guests safe.
How do you think COVID-19 will change live visitor experiences moving forward?
Thankfully, what we do is definitely at the safer end of the spectrum and with the introduction of some sensible additional measures, we believe we’ve been able to deliver peace of mind and a safe environment for our customers without detracting from the Rumble Live experience we set out to achieve.
Can visitors with disabilities or access issues visit Rumble Live?
We have had the pleasure of seeing some huge smiles on the faces of many customers with disabilities. The terrain isn’t particularly wheelchair friendly, but long-range sniping is a great option if mobility is a challenge. Our Rangers are also on hand to help out.
What would you say is your ‘ethos’, or your key aim for the visitor experience?
We aim to offer an unforgettable, multigenerational experience that appeals to every member of the family, with great value that keeps them coming back time and time again.
Do you have plans for any seasonal special events, for example using Halloween or Christmas to help bring in additional footfall and revenue throughout the year?
We are planning a Halloween themed weekend for 31 October and 1 November – we will be releasing details of that soon. We will also be adding weekday slots for the half term week.
What can the industry expect from Rumble Live for 2020 and beyond? Do you have further expansion plans?
The weapons upgrades, which we are launching in autumn 2020, are really exciting for us and we’ve no doubt some of our regular visitors will be booking sessions to test out the new gear! We’re also in advanced discussions about opening our second site in Spring 2021, so watch this space.