The taming of the laser
Fluorescent beams of light cut through a thin layer of the darkness in the Q-Zar arena. Flashing bulbs distract players as they dodge random laser fire and teams duke it out to be champions. The techno beats pounding throughout the 5,000-sq. ft. arena serve only to amp up the game’s energy. Laser tag is a whole lot more than a regular game of hide-and-go-seek.
Upon entering the briefing room to receive my 15 minutes of laser training, I assumed I needed little instruction for what is nothing more than a kid’s game. Yet, as the marshal proceeded to spew a flurry of instructions detailing the talking laser gun and adjoining pack, a twinge of confusion sunk in. He was talking about being “active” and “warnings” you receive in the 15 minutes of game play. Apparently, as I learned later, it’s a good idea to pay attention to the marshal in the funny vest. He speaks quickly, but is full of tips and hints to scoring some points.
The instructions explained the functions of the laser and the general etiquette of the game. Basically, if your laser’s automated voice is talking to you, you’ve been shot and you can’t fire. Once all the lights on the laser and the pack de-activate, a trip to the energizer is needed. Points are accumulated individually. Even though all the game elements are meant to produce excitement, there is no running and no physical contact allowed. Keep your laser to yourself.
After the instruction period, you are escorted into a vesting room to suit up. The packs look like cheap plastic versions of football equipment – but this football equipment comes in the fluorescent red and green colors. Once suited, players are taken into a large maze of walls and obstacles.
The teams then line up at the energizer and patiently wait for the game countdown to start. The competitive rush begins to flow in the bloodstream the second the game begins, and it no longer feels like child’s play.
To my surprise, the game was actually challenging. While trying to protect your front and back sensors, you have to attempt to score points for your own team. In the game I played, some experienced players were defending the red base. However, the first time you play, you have very little strategy aside trying to avoid getting tagged.
I ducked, jumped and slammed myself around the arena giving the green team my all. As pointless as the game seems, once you step inside and start to play, a competitive streak takes over and the desire to win is overwhelming. Before, I wouldn’t have considered myself a highly competitive person, but one game of Q-Zar changed my story.
After the 15 minutes of the game flew by, the green team emerged from the arena as the sweat-covered victors with more than 300 points. Each laser has a number to allow you to get an individualized scorecard at the end of the game. I was deemed “Not bad for a beginner.”
Though laser tag may not be the most poignant event in one’s life, it’s a fun way to exercise the competitive side and kill about an hour.
If you have something you’ve always wanted to try but wanted someone else to do first, email your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org . I will take all suggestions into consideration.
No skydiving, please.