Saturday, February 6, 2021

My Phaser Valentine

This week I received something really special…My Phaser Valentine! Actually, this is a one of a kind trophy that arrived on my doorstep, my belated prize from winning last year’s Laser Trooper Valentine’s Day Tournament. Talk about totally worth the wait!

Let’s hop into the “way-back machine” and remember back to a much happier point in time...I’m talking about February of last year, right before the world really started to change. I had taken first place in the very first Valentine’s Day Massacre solo laser tag tournament at Laser Trooper in Topeka, KS and had one of my most memorable travel adventures that weekend. This was actually the very first Laser Trooper tournament to ever take place in the United States. I remember making the spur-of-the-moment decision to rent a car and drive to Kansas when all the flights were cancelled due to bad weather on the east coast (and I arrived with only a half hour to spare before the event), making new friends with the other players which amazingly included someone from my hometown (what are the odds!), meeting up with friends in Kansas the next day and then proceeding on to even more laser tag sites and another tournament in Missouri before returning home. Sigh...those are some of my best memories of how life and travel used to be for me pre-pandemic.


The night of the tournament I was told that they were having a trophy custom made and they would send it to me in the mail...and then the pandemic happened. Obviously with lockdowns, temporary closures and the availability of the trophy to be customized during this time the arrival of the award encountered a bit of a delay, but I can honestly say that this was absolutely worth the wait! This trophy is a really special addition to both my trophy shelf and my laser tag collection. :)


Thank you to Kip and the team at Laser Trooper for having this completely original trophy made for me from an actual Laser Trooper phaser shell. He informs me this is the only one of its kind in the world. That is in no way an overstatement considering his business location remains the only place in the entire country where you can play laser tag using the Laser Trooper system and (at last I knew) is one of only three such locations in the world. So beyond commemorating the achievement of that night, it is also a remarkable addition to my collection of laser tag gear.


I notice and appreciate the little details like the addition of the souvenir game token from that event being added on the back.


Thanks also for the other special goodies included in the package. 


To me this trophy represents more than just the tournament event itself. As we are coming up on Valentine’s Day once again I am remembering back to that night nearly a year ago and all the things I was able to do just before everything changed. It makes me appreciate all those positive things that happened last year rather than only focusing only on the challenges we faced in 2020. I am thankful for the souvenirs and the wonderful memories of the laser tag experiences I have had including this very special one from Laser Trooper.


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Saturday, January 30, 2021

An Interview with Steradian Laser Tag

It has been a while since a new interview video has been added to the Oral History of Laser Tag collection. My apologies, all I can say is…well, 2020.

However as 2021 gets underway there will be plenty of new videos to share, some of which were recorded prior to the start of the pandemic, like this interview with representatives from Steradian Technologies Laser Tag.

I would like to thank Kevin McDonald (production manager, repair and purchasing) and Amy Baker (quality assurance, shipping and rentals) of Steradian Laser Tag for taking time for an interview with me during IAAPA 2019.

This is the latest addition to the Industry Leader Interviews at and I look forward to more being added soon. Enjoy!


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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

An Infusion of Awesome Thanks to the “Mod” Squad

Good things do come in small packages… But sometimes they also come in big UPS boxes!

So let me start with the story behind these System T/Infusion packs. Several months back I saw a seller on an entertainment industry resale website offering a whole lot of these packs at a very reasonable price and describing them as “for parts”. Well, for parts or otherwise I was definitely intrigued and I dropped a note expressing my interest in them. Unfortunately, I didn’t hear back right away, and simultaneously was pursuing another (unsuccessful) effort to obtain some Infusion packs for my collection. By the time I finally got a reply and confirmed my interest someone else had pulled the trigger and within only a few minutes I got a follow up email saying the packs had already been sold. :(

Fast forward to a few months later, I have just been gifted a couple of V3 packs from Australia and after seeing me post about them my friend, the great “General Nicolas, Grand Master of infusion” (aka Glendale) has offered to coach me via Zoom to see if we might be able to get them up and running. As it turns out the micros are too old and that effort fails, BUT during the course of all this Nick mentions something interesting. His friend Noah (who I met at a tournament in California a couple years ago) is working on refurbishing some Infusion packs...and it turns out that these are those very same packs I saw online a couple of months earlier!

For what it’s worth, in hindsight I’m glad Noah beat me to the buy because he has been able to work some real magic with bringing these packs back to life and fixing them up to be in stand-alone, playable condition. Refurbishing electronics like this that date back about twenty years is quite a talent. We worked out a deal that resulted in a big box of awesomeness arriving on my doorstep with three packs ready to go!

I’m going to call Noah and Nick my Mod Squad (in this case “mod” as in modification). I am lucky to know people who can tech packs because I am NOT a tech savvy person at all. I really have no idea what went into revitalizing these packs, but I am appreciative that I am connected with others who do have that skill set. I know these packs are now running player-devised “Sev-fusion” coding (not an official Zone term), but that’s as much as I can add to that discussion.

Since General Nick was responsible for the “Superterminator” design to start and stop the games I went to him for guidance on setting everything up. I don’t know what others are using for terminators, but he tells me that I now have one of only three of these superterminators that exist.

It was quite a thrill to hear the familiar sounds as I fired up these packs for the first time.

It has been at least a few years since I have had the chance to play using Infusion. My last time was either in 2016 when I brought a group of friends out for a pre-con tag night in Albany on the last weekend that Zero Gravity used it before they upgraded to Helios Pro or it may have been at Stratum whenever I last made it out to Mesa, AZ prior to them switching to Helios 2. Either way, it had been far too long, so I was itching to play. Since it is January and I live in the Northeast there was no chance of any parking lot tag because of all the snow, so instead I made arrangements to take these packs to my local laser tag center on a quiet day and try them out in an arena setting.

I arrived carrying the packs in a big, pink plastic tote and set them up on the counter to put the batteries in and fire them up. It was really cool to watch Ethan and Jackal get into checking out old school Zone for the very first time and realizing these packs were older than they were! Introducing them to this system was a lot of fun.

And then Fox, Jackal and I suited up to try them out.

I’ll be honest, I had a blast playing around with these, but Tiv didn’t get her groove back just yet. Even though these were familiar packs, the new coding made them play more like V4s (which I have spent very little time with in the past). Guess I will have to get more game time in with them! :)

The packs are programmed for five minute games and since there is no other way to keep score we just had to press the silver button to compare the stuns and deactivations on the small screen at the top of each pack with the lowest number of hits received being the winner. This was such a great time and I thank Fox and Jackal for joining me for a few games while Ethan held down the fort.

I also want to give big thanks to the Glendale guys for putting some playable Zone gear back in my hands. During the pandemic I have barely been able to play this system at all, so to now have access to these packs in my collection is amazing. This system is sentimental to me as Infusion was the very first laser tag system I ever played back around 2006 and that gets me reminiscing about my first ever laser tag home, Fun Junction. Over the holidays I took some time off from work. Since I couldn’t go anywhere this year, vacation with no travel equaled time on my hands for craft projects. So I used that time to cross stitch the old FJ map sampler-style.

This is now hanging in my office as a reminder of all the great memories I have of this site, this system and laser tag in general. After all, there’s no place like Zone. :)

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Sunday, January 17, 2021

The First Five Miles

I must say that doing five miles in a laser tag arena is WAY more fun than doing five miles on a treadmill and my Fitbit can’t tell the difference!

Last night I went out to play some laser tag for the first time in 2021. Since my current options for traveling are extremely limited as restrictions continue to tighten up in many states (including some that border my own) I’m going to have to find ways to challenge myself closer to home. I’ve decided that to tide me over until I can get back to tag travels again I will pursue distance goals while playing at my home site instead. So, I am kicking off the year by tagging my way towards 25 miles in the arena, starting with my first five miles last night.

It was still a bit quiet when I got there, so Jackal unwittingly got roped into this challenge too as my sparring partner for the first few games. However, I don’t mind doing 1v1 games, especially since he doesn’t hold back. And more players arrived within the hour, so I had plenty of opportunities to reach my goal, determining from the get go that I was going to tackle the first five miles during this visit. Reaching 25 total miles of tag will be cumulative over several visits. But to get to five miles this night I figured I’d just keep playing for however long it took until I hit that mark. As it happens, that only took 12 games to accomplish. Here is how I accumulated five miles…

The first three games were all 1v1 against Jackal:

Game 1 – Supercharge (a good way to warm up) - .35 miles

Game 2 – Redline (mixing it up…this format was not designed for 1v1, but I actually really like it because it shifts your focus off tagging the other player and onto being strategic with ALMOST deactivating the bases) - .30 miles

Game 3 – Dead Aim (Jackal had never played this format before) - .35 miles

Three games and one mile down!

Game 4 – Team Standard (more players arrived, so we switched back to the regular games) - .50 miles

Game 5 – Color ranked solo - .50 miles

Two more games got me to two miles.

Game 6 – Team Standard - .40 miles

Game 7 – Color ranked solo - .44 miles

Game 8 – color ranked solo .41 miles

Those games got me to a little over three miles.

Game 9 – Color ranked Supercharge - .50 miles

Game 10 Team Standard - .35 miles

That brought me to just over four miles.

Game 11 – Color Ranked Supercharge - .50 miles

Game 12 – Team Standard - .42 miles

And that’s how I got to five miles of laser tag in 12 games.

I remember reading on the LQ website that one of their average games was equivalent to about 400-500 steps or approximately .25 miles per mission, so I was playing a bit more intensely than that. While I’m sure this estimate will vary by system, format and length of game there is no denying you can get a good workout playing laser tag and log some miles at the same time. That's good, since I’m not currently able to log miles anywhere else!

Fox asked me what my next tag adventure was going to be. At this point I really don’t have any better answer than to say “THIS is my next adventure” because I have no idea when I’ll be able to get back on the road for travels to other laser tag centers. Even locally the laser tag options are getting a bit more limited once more as two of my other go-to spots are temporarily closed again. I do want to stress that I believe it is important to wear a mask and keep your social distance in the arena, but fortunately I have found this to be very manageable when I do get to play. I also make a point of playing with the same pack every game, which gives me some personal comfort that when I play continuously this ensures I am the only person touching that particular pack (other than for sanitization).

So, for the time being my tag goals will just be about logging my distance inside a 5000 sq. ft. arena rather than logging distance across the country like I did previously. When I was traveling I used to love bringing back souvenirs from my adventures, but I guess that won’t happen again for awhile…or will it?

I noticed as I was leaving that there were a couple of light up souvenir glasses left in the case where tag merch is kept. I also noticed that one was a little different from the others that I already had. How could I have missed this?

Upon closer examination, this glass had the image of a female laser tag player aiming a phaser and it is captioned “Laser Tag Girl Power”.

Well, looks like I might be able to bring home a new souvenir after all. :) So, I happily added this to my collection.

I look forward to whenever I get to complete the next leg of my journey as I continue on my way toward tagging to 25 miles.

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Thursday, December 31, 2020

My Top Ten Laser Tag Highlights of 2020

This past weekend I completed another 5K challenge while playing my final games of laser tag for the year, which seemed like a fitting way to close things out while setting the stage for things I hope to do next year...although finishing my 20 miles in 20 days dumpster fire challenge to bid farewell to 2020 certainly seems apropos in its own way too!


As we look back on 2020 it would be easy to just lament all the things we couldn’t do this year, but I want to take a moment to appreciate the things that I actually DID get to do this year. And in retrospect I am grateful that there were still plenty of good memories for me to reminisce about this time around. Here is my top ten list of laser tag highlights from 2020.

 1.  Tagging in several tournaments in support of worthwhile causes. I was proud to play with Team NYMO and take first place at the Code Yellow Tournament for Whitney in memory of a brave little girl’s battle with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a rare type of brain cancer that usually affects children. I also had a great time tagging in support of scholarships for Kids Chance of Arkansas and bringing home the Hot Shot award.

 2. Playing the final game at LQ Phoenix prior to the lockdown in support of the Doreen Katz Memorial Cancer Foundation. This night meant so much, particularly with the benefit of hindsight. Great fun, food and friends. I could not have asked for a better final night at Laser Quest, although there was no way to know then just how final it really was. You see, this event was held on the evening of Sunday, March 15th and the very next day the decision was made to close all the Laser Quest locations in America for what we hoped would be the short term. Unfortunately, most LQs never opened their doors again and now looking back on that night is bittersweet.

 3. Interviewing Laser Storm founder Bob Cooney on the 30th anniversary of his system. This interview took place actually 30 years to the day (nearly) as the interview happened on March 11th and March 12, 1990 is the date that Laser Storm was established. Such uncanny timing!

 4. Winning the very first Laser Trooper tournament to ever take place in the U.S. Considering there is only one site in the whole country where this particular system is played this is a rare piece of laser tag history that I am honored to claim. Simply getting myself to the tournament at all was quite a challenge because bad weather on the east coast caused many flight cancellations and I ended up renting a car and driving over 16 hours in order to get there in time. Worth it for the experience, and even more so when I saw the custom trophy they had made for me after the event!

 5. Attending the laser tag Convention and Amusement expo in New Orleans. Honestly, if I had known what was to come I would have shown up a day early to get the proper “convention” experience, but being given press access because of my blog, having my photo appear in RePlay Magazine and spending a couple of days with great friends (culminating in a VERY memorable game of laser tag in Metairie) made this show such a wonderful experience.


6. Launching the first Tiviachick’s Tag 4 A Cause Laser Tag 5K Challenge To raise money for pancreatic cancer research. This was the start of something I hope to grow in 2021. Timing may not have been ideal, but the concept is one I am excited about building on and I thank all who contributed to helping a cause that hits very close to home with my family.


 7. Hosting Tiviachick’s Top Ten Laser Tag Arena contest to spark some positivity and appreciation for the laser tag industry while spotlighting some really impressive arenas. Every arena got votes from their fans and votes were received from across 21 states and five countries.

 8. Having a rare opportunity to play Cybertag by Laserwar for the very first time. When laser tag first started to open up again in my state the first place I went to play was a small site that had only just opened up three weeks before everything had to shut down. What a way to start out in business! But the first week they re-opened I was there to try out a system I had never played before and call this a VERY unique way to return to laser tag.

 9. Receiving a couple of Zone V3 packs from Australia to add to my collection with thanks to a friend in the land down under. I have been lucky to acquire some rarities, but swapping souvenirs from across the globe is really something remarkable and speaks to what a big family the laser tag community really is!

 10.  Adding my voice to recording a four-part audio drama following the “live action” of a mock LQ tournament from the viewpoint of a sports commentator. I played the part of color commentator Renee Roccasalva along with Daniel “MamaHydra” Leach and Tiana Daniels and amazingly with some microphone coordination and the remote help of Anagram Sound we were able to share the laser tag experience vicariously, even when nobody was actually able to play. I am honored to have been part of this project.

Honorable mention - Although not specifically laser tag related, my tag travels did take me off the beaten path to a really memorable experience in Tucson, AZ.  In between tag locations I had the chance to tour the Tanque Verde Ranch where they filmed Hey Dude, one of my favorite television shows from when I was young. Believe it or not, the main set buildings are still standing 30 years later in a remote part of the ranch out in the middle of the desert. I am so thankful that the staff of the ranch were kind enough to allow me to tour the remnants of something that I have incredibly fond memories of from my childhood. This was just a little icing on the cake in retrospect.

So even though 2020 did not turn out anything like what we expected at the beginning of the year, I am still extraordinarily thankful for all the things that did take place before and during the navigation of such a challenging year. 


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