Shuttered Northridge Mall transformed into simulated war zone

BROWN DEER (WITI) -- Northridge Mall was like a video game brought to life this weekend -- as the shuttered mall was transformed into a simulated war zone.

It was a postapocalyptic setting inside Northridge Mall on Sunday, April 7th -- as the mall was filled with soldiers.

"It's intense. It's chaos at times. You're going through fear, you're going through excitement, you're going through every emotion probably possible," Andre Tillman said.

Soldiers were on a mission in this simulated war game. Hundreds of participants filled the mall from across the Midwest. They battled with guns filled with air soft bullets.

The Renegades took on the Federation Army.

"Both sides are fighting for territory and we call this the 'Northridge Biodome,'" one soldier said.

The Airsoft Military Simulation is more than just a hobby for the 270 participants.

"We just get focused on the missions that we have to accomplish. We count on each other. We have our battle buddies just like in the service," Tillman said.

Tillman is a veteran of the U.S. Army and Navy, and says these games have special meaning.

"They pay tribute to what people like myself and others have done," Tillman said.

There are rules and structure -- as Army rangers led the participants through the fights.

For these soldiers, the simulation provided an escape from reality in a battle that seemed very real.

A portion of the profits collected on Sunday goes towards U.S. Army Recruiting Command and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.