Getaways for gamers, concert-goers

As a place focused on making tourists' dreams come true, the Myrtle Beach area offers plenty of opportunities to do most anything you can imagine.

But even with its many action-packed attractions, there's only one place in town where you can race cars, blow up tanks, kill zombies, win the Super Bowl and regularly participate in game tournaments. That's Forest's Game Bunker, a home theater and video game store located just off U.S. 501 and Forestbrook Road.

With lots of comfy places to sit and multiple HDTVs, Forest's gives gamers a chance to break out from their normal living room or basement setting. For $10, the store provides players all-day access to any of its many video game systems - ranging from the classic Atari 2600 to the current next-gen consoles - and the huge library of games lining the walls of the military-themed shop.

"It's a good deal. I'll come out and play sometimes with my friends, and it's fun," said Chris Hamilton, one of Forest's regulars.

Owner Joe Lorenzo says he gets at least a couple of groups of younger customers a week who come out to play at Forest's together, noting, "I had one kid say he comes just to get away from his sister."

It's this sense of community that comes from being one of the few independently owned shops of its kind in Myrtle Beach.

Lorenzo says he gets repeat customers and devoted regulars who come not only to play and hang out, but also to talk gaming and get advice on games to rent or buy.

Forest's also hosts game tournaments as often as possible, usually three to four times a month.

Featuring popular games such as "Guitar Hero," "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare" and "Madden NFL 10," these tournaments offer players a chance to compete against other local players and teams and win prizes and bragging rights.

"The tournaments were always part of the plan," says Lorenzo, "but I wasn't sure quite what to expect. It seems every tournament, we learn a huge list of new things as to how to make them better."

The tournaments attracted 48 players for a recent "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare" team event, and routinely gather 10 to 20 participants for each event.

"They get bigger and better every time," Lorenzo says. "This last one was the most successful, with all the teams coming in and really getting to know each other."

Major concerts/shows

Gov't Mule with Jackie Green, 8 p.m. Tuesday, House of Blues, 4640 U.S. 17 S., North Myrtle Beach. $25-$65. Details: www .

"Hoop" Hooper, comedian, 8 p.m. Tuesday, House of Blues. $15. Details: www.houseofblues .com .

Sean Kingston with Jeremy Greene , 8:30 p.m. Friday, House of Blues. $175.50-$40.50. Details: www .

Chrisette Michele, 9 p.m. Saturday, House of Blues. $250-43. Details: www .

Lamb of God with Hatebreed and 3 Inches of Blood, 8 p.m. Aug. 9, House of Blues. $25.50-$57. Details: www .

Kenny Rogers, 7 p.m. Aug. 13, Alabama Theatre, Barefoot Landing, North Myrtle Beach. $53.95-$69.95. Details/tickets: www .

Four Tops and Temptations, 7 p.m. Aug. 20, Alabama Theatre. $49.95-$63.95. Details/tickets:


Details on Grand Strand events and attractions:

www.myrtlebeachonline .com .