Sunday, May 31, 2015

Mixing It Up

I always assume that people who can play laser tag any time they want (i.e. the game masters) actually do play whenever they want and therefore must have a leg up, especially in their home arena, over the casual player (or even the weekly renegade like me). After all, I play a lot, but I do have to make an effort to drive a fair distance to play so it's not like I'm practicing every night. So, whether this is a correct or incorrect assumption, I generally expect the game master to be pretty good competition if and when he plays. And because of that the victory is all the more sweet if I happen to come out on top of one of those games, which is what happened in the first two Zone games last night. Props to the game master who went in and played it out...and he played some good games...because I really appreciate someone who gets into it along with the players and isn't just there to clock time. To me this made for even more interesting games and then when I ended up with the top score in those rounds it felt way more rewarding because I knew there was particularly worthy competition in those rounds. It was a pleasure to play.

And let me acknowledge he had his comeback too. Third game I was second to this guy when he joined my team and I was no longer shooting against him. At one point in this game he commented to one of the players "you can't beat her" which I took as a cool compliment...until he actually did! Well played. In between time the games were decent and I kept a pretty good winning streak up for most of the night. I played favorites with a new pack as "Cyclone" as I decided last time I was here that something wasn't quite right with my previous favorite pack, "Legend". The Cyclone pack somehow felt and sounded slightly different tonight, which I inquired about, but maybe it was just in my head.

There was a cute moment that I smiled about internally, but did not speak up about since I knew the explanation would be self-evident shortly. There was a guy who came as part of a group and it must have been his first time here because after the first round he loudly commented "This time I want a pack that will register on the board because my pack wasn't up there last round. My pack name was "Rift". I'll pause a moment for any seasoned laser tag player reading this to smile at that also. I was tempted to explain it to him right then and there, but I suspected he was with his girlfriend and I didn't see the point of possibly embarrassing the guy by correcting him when he would certainly realize upon entering the vesting room again that they are in fact all Rift packs.

I don't know why this center doesn't mix up their game options, but they simply don't. Every game is standard three team play and lately that has felt a little boring (not playing a standard game in and of itself...just the lack of variety compared to other places where I go) and someone asked if it was possible to play free for all here. I told the room I knew that they could do that, so perhaps if we all spoke up they would run a free for all game. We did, and they did. I won this round and found it to be a lot of fun doing something different in this particular arena where often times it all feels vanilla. This time there was something fresh to the game, which was cool. They left it on free for all for the rest of the night (maybe they think it's a pain to change between games?) and it made for a more interesting evening. I also thought it was cool to see the games evolve throughout the evening as the core group of players adjusted their tactics accordingly. Cool night, a good challenge and props to the game master for getting right in the mix.

If you have comments or questions please visit my websites at (new version is almost ready to launch...very soon!) and or email me at

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Chillin' and Taggin'

I just had one of the most laid back laser tag nights ever. I didn't take anything too seriously and instead enjoyed sharing the game with my friend Tracee who came out to see what it was all about.

I wanted to get my last couple of standard games out of the way to complete last week's goal, so I started on that before she arrived. I met my objective and decided to retire that card. Interestingly enough, the rounds where I had to play with purpose and effort I felt were some of the best of the night as far as the game itself went. However, I didn't want to have to be "on" all night. Instead I opted for a new (and final) sign in option that I could keep at a level one for those times I just want to have fun and not care so much about playing hard. That was how I enjoyed most of the night (though I must say that would get boring very quickly if I did that all the time). Next time around I will be going at it hard for some real practice. But last night wasn't about playing fact I walked a lot of it. I just enjoyed getting to catch up with Tracee before she heads off to her big competition next week...wishing her all the best and I can't wait to see her show them what the Valley girls do!

That's not to say the evening didn't have some interesting moments. There was an interesting result in what (I think) was the final game of the night...sadly not enough people stayed to do an Ironman, so I'm fuzzy on if this was the end of the evening or not.

A couple of the serious level six players jumped into this round. It kind of felt like they were in their own little game, separate, but in the same space, because I was barely aware of them at times. However, I have great respect for their playing abilities. I also respect what I think I saw happening which was at least one guy playing as...I'm not sure, but I think possibly a level 7? Maybe? It showed on the scoreboard as 6, but when I became aware of him there I watched...and shot...and was taken by surprise by what I perceived as a really long burst of invincibility. And it's possible I just wasn't expecting anything serious at that point since the whole rest of the night had been so light, but I found myself perplexed by what appeared to be a whole other game within a game. When we came out of the arena I commented and asked Mike what just happened. His answer was "we just tied". And I clarified I meant what was happening with the levels, but apparently it was just my skewed perception having been taking it so easy tonight. In a way I wish there had been more (any) level six players there throughout the night to keep me on my toes. I might say I got lazy...I prefer to say I was just chilling.

But back to "what just happened". He said "we just tied" which is technically correct, and yet very unfulfilling for me because I was signed in as a level one. So, yes, our end score was the same, but he achieved it while playing way harder with more challenges (and a few more assets too), so I don't consider that a real tie. He wins simply for playing it harder and better. Props to him as the player who played it out right. As I explained last week, I wholeheartedly recognize that a success as a level one really means absolutely nothing in the scheme of making me a better player. I've enjoyed a couple of nights of just going back to have fun and that has been great. However, I am less than a month away from taking on something incredibly challenging. The Armageddon tournament is fast approaching and from here on in I think I need to take everything more seriously again to make sure I am as prepared as I can possibly be to go up against what I expect to be some very impressive players. I recognize that in that scenario I will be the newbie and so it's important to me to do everything I can to do my best in that situation. So, last night was great to have a laid back night showing Tracee the ropes and just playing to play. But the fun is over...time to get serious...this is LASER TAG! (ironic wink)

If you have comments or questions please visit my websites at (new version is almost ready to launch...very soon!) and or email me at

Saturday, May 23, 2015


The First Appearance of "Tiviachick"

Last night I had the chance to implement my game plan for my Tiviachick membership and very nearly went from zero to six in one night. Actually I started out kicking it into high gear very quickly (and thoroughly confusing everyone who knows I'm a six, saw me sign in and then watched me do my thing without those restrictions). And you know was just FUN like in the beginning. Now, if you want to know WHY I'm doing this, just go back and read my "Where is Home" post from last week.

I won most of the early games (and as a lower level that just makes sense, even though it doesn't prove much) and it was interesting to FEEL the shift of each level as I was aware of the changes as the night progressed. Only once did I either drop the ball (or possibly I can equate this to a smaller field of players this one game) and got a score that significantly altered what I was working towards. However, I got eight standard games in by the end of the night...if we hadn't done a couple of special games in the mix or if the night had gone to 2:00 A.M. as normal I could have done it in one shot. I got a standard game high score of over 16,000 (I know that may not sound like much compared to the last couple Zone trips, but it definitely works for me and this objective) and I'm only two games away from earning the level six all over again.

I should be clear, this means NOTHING. It simply makes my ego feel better to have gone in and played hard and not been taken down by level ones simply because I was playing at a higher level. Instead, I'm really just going backwards because I can. But I'm also setting myself up for this to be the account I protect from here on in. If I can play these two more games without anything going wrong and keep a good average in the process then Tiviachick may replace Tivia as my guarded member name.

As I mentioned, if the game play continued through 2:00 in the morning as has been the norm then this goal would already be behind me. However, they are doing something different now and ending the night with a half hour Ironman round. This was a good time. I didn't realize how quickly a half hour can fly! I came in third, but was happy enough with that. I paced myself, especially because my ankle was acting up (my physical therapist is going to start getting irritated that he does such good work to heal me during the week and then I go and undo it on the weekends!) and was pleasantly surprised by something else...the music! I came out and was commenting that I didn't know where that music mix came from, but it took me back in time to the music I played during my early start in radio. It was 1997 in that arena last night and it was awesome! That was my era...although I imagine some of these guys must think I'm from a time before that and maybe think I'm older than I actually am since they perceive me as an "original" Photon player...which of course I am not. But that distinction doesn't really matter...not when each time out I hear more and more young kids asking to play Photon there. Add that little gem to the night and it was a pretty good evening all around.

If you have a comment or question visit my websites at (new version coming soon) and or email me at

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Out of the Zone

What happens when someone makes you feel like sh!t immediately before you play a game of laser tag?...(and I'm not talking smack talk or even anything related to the game because that's just par for the course. I mean a serious inflicting of verbal pain). In my case it made me feel very weak and as a result I played very weak and half-heartedly in my first game this evening. Laser tag is totally a game won first in the mind. My mind was not in it tonight. The saving grace is that I'm playing against a group of college aged players, several of whom have very cocky laser tag attitudes and that may be the only thing that brings me back to focus tonight. I hate that, but it does bring out the competitive part of me. I am ready to dominate the next game. Frankly, if I win I'll just go home. If not...

Ok, I won. Do I feel better? About beating the one guy who seems to be the biggest PITA of this night, sure. About everything else? I still have some aggression to work out. One more round to unleash the T.

Ok, came in 300 lousy a guy who was openly cheating! That (fill in the blank for me) used two packs SIMULTANEOUSLY. I'm not going to vent about rules being broken. I doubt it helped him much anyway. Besides, I couldn't even get players from my own team to stop SITTING DOWN ON THE BRIDGE!!!

I really need to go home right now, but I cannot just let that stand. I am taking this guy down...(once again...after all, it's already happened once tonight).

Well, unfortunately he left. But I still had the need for another win. So I went in and unleashed it anyway. I found myself playing fine, but being really agitated about things going on around me in the arena. Two teen guys on the red team appeared to be giving a girl on blue a hard time. I watched things get quite physical with the packs and phasers and I was not happy with what I witnessed. I shouted for them to knock it off. Then after a couple go arounds observing this I intervened. I stormed up to them and asked if they had a problem with which they turned ghost white and said "no, she's our friend". Wow...I don't believe I've ever caused anyone to look like that before. Matter settled as best I could do anything about it, so I let it be and decided this was all I had in me for the night. I won the game and I left.

So in answer to my opening question, what happens? If you're anything like me you get temporarily weak and then you unleash your inner rage in as healthy an outlet as possible. God bless laser tag. I needed that tonight.

If you have a comment or question visit my websites at (new version coming soon) and or email me at

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Back in Albany

I was back in Albany last night for some Infusion and found myself in a couple of interesting games. I was top three all evening, but the first place wins I got were a little more gratifying based on the competition at hand. The first couple of rounds were decent (although I got a bad pack off the bat and had to swap it out early on in the game), but one player in particular stood out among the rest as being "the one" to take on as my challenge. He was good and clearly accustomed to winning also. For right or for wrong I spent a lot of time on the bridge just facing off with this guy. The smack talk flew, the shots cancelled each other out and it barely registered that there were other players in the game. I don't usually spend that much time going head to head with a single player, but somehow it was on right away. I didn't think that was necessarily my best showing as I could have racked up more points going after the others, but sometimes a chick's gotta do what a chick's gotta do. When we left the vesting room that guy gave me props for being "a ridiculously good player". He said he never faces off like that either, but he gave me a lot of respect for my skills and I had clearly earned my cred with him. 

The second game was a mirror image of the first. I took third and second place respectively....good, but not good enough. The challenge was good, but I'm here to win some games, so I decided not to let my focus stay in one spot any longer. By the third game I had a new focus altogether anyway.

A swarm of teenage girls showed up and they were playing as a vicious pack augmented by a handful of rowdy college age guys. I was blue and after capturing the red base (my first move every time in this arena just to get it out of the way) I made my way up to the bridge where it was just a sea of red lights. The girls were the swarm and one of these college guys in particular appeared to be their "leader" as much as anyone could be. Basically they were bridge bullies and no less than five of them had their phasers on me at any given time once my presence was known. I worked through the crowd from one end of the bridge to another (stepping over the people on the floor...I'll circle back to this later) and when I was at the midpoint (obviously zapped out) and with three girls simultaneously aiming their phasers at me as they tried to "push" me off the bridge one of the other college guys said to me "are you blue? Don't you know this is our bridge?" To which I thought to myself "don't you know those are the magic words?" I don't know why, but I absolutely HATE when players announce that a bridge is their "property". So I decided to take them out. And their cluster strategy made it ridiculously easy to do. I vacated to the base of the bridge and hid behind a barrier. Then systematically I shot them like fish in a barrel. From that angle it was easy to duck for cover, but their red lights were easy to target and the speakers in my pack kept registering with affirmations like "good shot", "awesome" and excellent" over and over again. Then the one guy who was their loud leader figured this out and came down after me. He and his buddies thought they had this...however, one of them ended up on my team and was excellent backup keeping the girls in check from one side as I faced off with this guy down below. And you know what...the bigger they are, the faster they run away from a girl who gets a couple good shots off. He basically admitted defeat and scurried away from that part of the arena after a couple of go-arounds. Smile...that felt good. But what felt better was coming out and seeing my name at the top with over 20,000 points. Decimated it!

Back to my one major issue, which I addressed with the manager because I've observed it a few times now...I really have a problem with people sitting on the floor during a game. One girl was chasing me on both knees. Several players were either sitting or lying down. Now, technically this is not addressed on their rule board, but I've never played in any arena where this was acceptable. Sometimes I feel like I want to take on a "mom" role in the arena (like the other night as I'm literally telling some kid not to run with a lollipop in his mouth in the arena), but in this case I'm less concerned with their safety and a bit more concerned with my own. Stepping over bodies during a game...not necessary.

The fourth game I was in third place with a score of over 16,000. My first thought was "dammit" (about being third) and my next thought was "that's a good score, adjust your attitude now and just enjoy the game". So I did and took first in the next round before the place cleared out. I took some time for a few photos (like I sometimes do if there's an empty vesting room).

Then a final one on one round where we played stealth (which I absolutely LOVE!). To protect the innocent (as well as the cranky) I'll avoid sharing the details other than to say my opponent was not a happy camper after being shot by me a good number of times and he forfeited mid-round. I was irritated with that, but my record holds for never having lost a one on one in this arena yet. So, chalk that up as a final win for the evening. Thank you and good night.

If you have a comment or question visit my websites at (new version coming soon) and or email me at

Where Is Home?

I was asked an interesting question last night (Friday...posting late again). Lenny came up to me and asked "What's your home system? Someone wanted to know." I used to think this was a simple answer, but the more I play laser tag the less simple I realize it is. What exactly makes it your "home system" anyway? Is it the system you've played the most games on? In my entire life that would certainly be Zone...which is ultimately the easy answer to that question. Of course I play in more than one Zone arena, so is it the one place you go more often than any other? Most recently that seems to be the Laserforce arena (even though I've been balancing that with playing Zone, so that doesn't really change the answer). Or is it the system that you have the greatest affinity for? No secret that for me that's Photon, but in actuality I've really barely played that (as it's not something anyone really plays a lot of now that all the centers are closed). Is it the system you dominate? Generally I'd say that's still Zone, but since it's so easy to dominate Lazer Runner you could make an argument in that direction (although I'm not...just that the criteria matters in answering the question). Or are you a wanderer if like me you have experimented with a lot of systems? We started running down the list last night. I have played Zone, Laserforce, Photon, Quest, Runner, Lasertron, Blast and Darklight. I have not yet played Q-Zar, Storm or Delta Strike (that last one I hadn't actually heard of until last night), or for that matter, tactical.

I think in laser tag home is where you feel the most connected and I am starting to feel that tide shift from the Zone center where I began playing and no doubt have played the most games over to the Laserforce center where things are kept interesting, the challenge is greater and I feel like I'm surrounded by others who take it more seriously. Apparently (if anyone asks) Syracuse is now officially my home Laserforce center. I don't really know what that means, but I wouldn't have said anything else. Last week Mike came by and announced that I was added (to a list, I assume) and the short explanation seems to be that if I were ever to get into Laserforce competitions they would expect/require me to be connected to a home base center, the place where I play the majority of my Laserforce games, and so now I am on record as that being Syracuse...I think. So if/when that comes up I have an official home in that capacity. I was told about a girl in Pennsylvania who still claims Syracuse as her home center because that's where she has played the most Force. I'm not entirely sure why the distinction really matters (perhaps that will be more clear to me in the future when it becomes relevant), but it is good to know I have a home :)

Now, figuring out where my home is turns out to be an easier question than figuring out what my name at the end of the night I decided to add yet another membership. Here's why...

We've discussed ad nauseum the challenges of playing as a level six surrounded by level ones on a typical night. I can tell I'm getting better. I'm managing the triple shot liability better, playing a bit more stealthily, blah, blah, blah...but sometimes I just miss when it was fun to play laser tag for no reason other than to go hard and play for the win, not the growth and experience. And when I don't sign in I of course do better in that department and look at the scores I achieve thinking what a shame that I can't take credit for that towards my average. Well...maybe there's a best of both worlds and fitting enough, it will be with the new codename Tiviachick. I have not used this membership yet to play, but my intention is to build a new level six membership as quickly as possible from the ground up. I will start again as a level one letting my averages take care of themselves. I will play hard and have fun and see it rewarded by the scores that result. I will take better note of the distinctions of the levels along the way. And when I achieve my level six goal...who knows, maybe I'll start all over. I'm not saying I won't still sign in as a level six for practice along the way...I have to grow and improve my game. But this time around I will be building from a base of knowledge instead of just plowing through with trial and error. People have told me numerous times that I achieved my level six very quickly...maybe so, I wasn't really paying attention when I did it. Now we'll see just how quickly that can be done starting next week.

If you have a comment or question visit my websites at (new version coming soon) and or email me at

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Two Arenas, One Long Night

It was a bit of a toss-up for me which arena to go to tonight. I am trying to play Zone on Saturdays, but find the practice at the Laserforce arena so much more worthwhile on the whole. However, I said I'd be back for Zone, so I went there first with the intention of seeing if there was a decent crowd, playing one game and then moving on. Well, the competition there was actually quite good this evening (although not the set I expected to see there) and I ended up playing against about ten high school guys...the semi-jocks as I call them. One of them (who incidentally was a very good player) recognized me from a previous night and seemed to have a score to I decided to go full out and give it right back. That first game was AMAZING...and odd. I say odd because I know I was on fire (as were several of these was a really good round of solid competition). At one point one of them shouted up to me on the bridge "hey, do you have a name?" and I replied "Tivia"...and when I pull out my player name it somehow feels like I'm playing for the honor of Greyskull, know what I mean? So I played it out incredibly hard and was certain I killed it. So it was quite a shocker to leave and see my score was third...and considerably lower than I thought it should have been. That's what I mean by odd. But it was a REALLY good game, so I accepted that sometimes that's how the cookie crumbles and I started to leave because I had only planned to play that one game...but my ego turned me right back around. I just couldn't leave Zone placing third, I had to go back.

So I went into a second game. As we were preparing in the briefing room the guy who recognized me asked if I remembered him. To be honest, I didn't. I asked if I had met him here or somewhere else and also wondered how those games had gone because he seemed friendly enough, but no doubt I was the target of the night. It was another round with me going in surrounded by these high school guys and this time I was in the head space to knock it out of the park and call it a night here. This was another VERY competitive round...which I appreciate. Although I do go in to win, it means nothing unless it's against worthy competition, which was absolutely the case here. Except for one thing...I didn't win it. I came in second to that guy by 100 points (meaning I lost by a single shot). Second place by that tiny margin? Good enough? I again started to leave...and then turned myself right around again. You know I can't go out like that!

So I went in for a third game. Now here's where I got sloppy and unfocused and wasted the time that probably cost me the top spot. That guy and his buddy were on the blue team (I was red) and I had gone straight for their base. They were not about to let me have it. So what began as a bit of a dog fight turned into the three of us shooting each other just to keep the other from going anywhere or gaining ground. Two of them standing there pointing their phasers right at me and taking turns so even when I took out one the other was right there waiting to take me out.

Waste. Of. Time.

But I dug my heels in for some reason. I eventually did get the base, but rather than extract myself from that scenario I stayed and kept shooting them out of principle. Reasonably enough, one of them asked me what principle that was...I had no idea. I just knew I was keeping them from acquiring points the same as they had done to me. I repeat...

Waste. Of. Time.

And then I decided that this was a pointless and stupid way to spend the game so I left the base and went off to actually play the game. At the end of it all I came in second place again...sheesh. I figure that if I hadn't wasted that time early on in the round and spent that time actually playing properly that I would have been able to take first. So, satisfied that it could have been and kicking myself for being goaded into playing any other way I decided this time I really was done and I headed over to the Laserforce center.

Honestly, I wasn't immediately certain I made the right choice. I had just left a place where the competition was very good this particular night and when I walked into the other center it seemed a little quiet with less intense competitors around. The swarm of girls from the night before had returned and one of them recognized me and said "I didn't think you'd be back"...ha, ha, ha little ladies. Just to make a point I didn't sign in that round and I went at it hard without the level six constraints...just once, just had something to prove I suppose.

The second game (with that all out of my system) I did sign in...and stupidly so as that triple shot is a killer and I did a little damage to my average as I was not using my practice membership. I know intellectually that I have to suck it up and play as a level six against level ones if I am to improve, but it really is such an ego, motivation and average killer! Third game I had enough of that and I didn't sign in. I simply wanted to win...and I did.

I so wish I was better at picking which games to sign in for (I was Twister here). I may need a third membership soon :) I think this was probably right around the point the first half of the night concluded and the young ones left, but I stayed on for a longer go around with a group of adult players who came for the late night. That was cool. When someone suggested playing men versus women I smiled to myself...I knew what was about to happen, but these guys did not. I played it out and earned some cred right off the bat before balancing things out by signing in with my practice membership. That seemed like the more fair thing to do. I enjoyed playing with this group for a little while longer and then the night ended with a free for all. One guy did quite well and it was clearly going to be between us for the top spot. Once I'm red I fight hard to keep it, but I enjoyed getting to play with this group and had to commend him on a game very well played. Fun night...long night...I left around 1:00 in the morning and had my long drive home, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable Saturday night.

If you have a comment or question visit my websites at (new version coming soon) and or email me at

Some Runner Along The Way

I was working to the east yesterday morning and as I was on my way back I passed a place I had been curious about for awhile. During the week I frequently go by this mini-golf course with a large building by their driving range that has a sign that says "Lazer Tag"...but they are never open when I am in town. Their hours are on the weekends and rarely do I have occasion to be over that way with time on my hands...but I did this weekend, so I stopped. I knew from looking at the building that they would be using Lazer Runner. Although I enjoy this system, I also feel that it equates to a lower budget kiddie laser tag experience...or LT Lite as I have called it before. Nonetheless, I wanted to see what this experience would be like. I bought one game, as that was all I really had the time for.

There was a group of teenagers who were going in for the game and I was glad because teens are fair game. Since I was driving my conspicuously wrapped work vehicle and I am a semi-recognizable figure in this area it would not be good for anyone to see me going in to dominate the game against a bunch of little kids, but teens are perfectly acceptable competition in my mind. And they seemed pleased that I was there to balance out their game and we played three on three.

The building looks large from the outside, but on the inside the arena was a bit small with a decent maze area, but VERY easy to figure out quickly. Now, these kids had apparently been playing there earlier, but I don't know if they had totally figured out that the name of the game for points is bases. I think a couple of the guys had. This was a walking tour for me to hit a few players, hit a few bases and repeat. The teens were pretty good, but I knew I was going to take this round easily.

My one major issue with my experience was that the arena was dark and there was a wet patch on the floor that I slipped on and took a header right on my bad ankle. It hurt considerably for awhile after that happened. When I brought it to the attention of the attendant she said "oh, yeah...that's because of the fog machine. It drips." Unacceptable answer.

Outside of that it was an enjoyable experience and if I passed by on a weekend I would probably stop again. I enjoyed playing with the teens and was asked if I would go in for another game, but I thought better of it only because of the time. I also felt like I had accomplished all I wanted to by going in and seeing what this place was about and coming out on top once. The mom with the group said "she smoked you guys" as she noted my score of 9900. Not my top Lazer Runner accomplishment, but when they printed the scorecards I was gratified to see a scale of point measurement for the first time (although I was told later on that night that there may be a flaw to the scoring in this system...but nonetheless).

So, there was no real need to stick around longer because I had a full night of laser tag ahead of me with two arenas in my sights for the rest of the evening. We'll get serious then.

If you have a comment or question visit my websites at (new version coming soon) and or email me at

Q (-Zar) and A

Last night (Friday actually...I'm posting this late) eventually became very informative. Before that happened it became very irritating and very gratifying in that order, and here's why...

When I arrived there was almost nobody else there. I get that this prom season and nice weather, blah, blah, blah...but I'm ready to get in some practice so I was up for playing with whoever might show. The girl at the counter didn't want to take my money until there was a group, so in all honesty I was on my phone trying to figure out if I'd do better to head to a different center this night. So glad I didn't. Right as I was about to take off a swarm of pre-teen/early teen girls decided to play together as a group. Cool, I'd go in with this group. The problem is...and having been one I can speak first hand...pre-teen/early teen girls when gathered together as a group are among the most malicious beings on the planet. Several of them pegged me and ganged up on me almost immediately. And I'm not talking in a sporting, strategic way. I'm saying they were stuck to my hip like a swarm of bees that I could not break from as every step I made I was accompanied by a circle of girls around me. I was signed in as a six at this point, so what was worse was not having a chance to get them off my back by disarming them because I would have to shoot them three times and when you have five girls circling you, little as they are, you can't get three shots off before one of them takes you out. Now, looking back to the tournament a few weeks ago, I'm not giving credence to the guy who thought there was following going on, but I will say that if this was anything like what he perceived (and it is totally apples to elephants) then I get why he was frustrated. The girls needless to say won and left the arena whooping and hollering. In my mind I'm coming to the decision to NOT sign in next round and take my vengeance. But by the time we got to the next round something interesting happened...

The swarm of girls all came around me with a cool show of respect, telling me I was so good, can they be on my team, do I play here a lot, etc. Smile...yes can be on my team even though you were just ganging up on me... "Oh yeah, sorry about that" was the reply. All is cool...LT battles are short lived :) However, next game I did not sign in and I did unleash a little fury was a free for all.

After that there were a few adult players who arrived and I thought that they would make a more appropriate game. The game master made sure it was more evenly broken out by instructing the players which teams to play on. He said "you five go red, you others go green" then left me hanging and said you and I go blue. I appreciate the props I feel like I get from the staff there. Sometimes I feel like since I started playing as a six that it might come off like I'm not pulling my weight as a player because I am not winning outright with the regularity that I can and do in other situations, so I took that team separtion for what it was and we went off and took the game as a team of two. I came in second to Lenny, but felt gratified that I was not trailing him by all that much. Final game...didn't sign in. It was a free for all and I won...sometimes you just need an ego boost.

Then things got very informative. A couple of the guys started playing in the lobby with some Q-Zar packs. Intrigued? Yes. I've never played Q-Zar, but it will be the first stop on the Armageddon, so I do want to have some awareness, but there is no place around to get experience with this system. So I got my education tonight and had a chance to ask my questions, get some insight into what the Armageddon experience is really like from someone who will be involved also and I got to practice carrying and pointing a Q-Zar phaser. I am told that if the way you are holding it doesn't hurt that you are doing it wrong and that the proper way to hold it looks something like this...


I suspect (aka know without a doubt) that I am not going to be great at Q-Zar. Although I was also informed that it's more about dog fighting than anything else. So I'll just play it scrappy and do what I can. In any case, just putting on the pack and learning what to do with the phaser is more than I had gotten to do before and I am appreciative that I am now playing at an arena where the guys around me are experienced with these tournaments and can answer my questions and give me better guidance. Perhaps the best guidance I got was the advice to drive, not fly, to the Armageddon and to get there by way of passing through Canada...which means I can perhaps combine a visit with my Toronto that! And puts my mind at ease that the trip will be more manageable within my control and that I'll have my vehicle right there to get around before and after. That tip will make things so much easier and now I'm getting psyched up for it all the more because I love a road trip!

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Sunday, May 3, 2015

A One on One with a Few Extra Moving Targets

There have been some quiet laser tag weekends lately and when I arrived tonight there was only one guy there. It was Joe (the guy I've nicknamed Bhodi because he's such a good shot) and when I walked into the center it appeared that we were going to end up heading into a one on one. That was good with me as I have not had the opportunity to face off against him since the second place slump I hit better than a month ago. I give him tremendous props for being the best challenger I've gone up against in this particular arena, so a one on one would have been interesting. However, just before going into the arena two young and enthusiastic kids joined us. Now you might think that a game with four people, two of them being kids might be a little...pathetic. However, I found the opposite to be true. In essence, we were still playing one on one, just with a couple of extra moving targets. And this was good competition. It seemed we were pretty evenly matched. He won the first game and I took all the subsequent games, however each one was a close contest and in several rounds we were only a shot or two apart from each other's scores at the end. What I enjoy about playing one on one is the stealth strategy that goes into it. Since you don't have a ton of people to target left and right you have to play it much smarter...move more quietly, anticipate what the other person is likely to do and know your surroundings. The truth is Joe is a better shot than I am, however I suspect I compensate for it with strategy and competitive drive. And it was fun to see how that played out. Actually we are both highly competitive and so that meant the games stayed interesting because we were both playing hard for the win every time. And the little ones were just upping the challenge...kind of like those little turtles that get in Mario's way, but don't pose a tremendous threat so long as you stay aware.

The second game was especially fun because a couple of young girls showed up to play as well. I think one of the kids suggested playing with the boys on one team and the girls on the other. Now, we kind of got to be mentors to these kids because none of them were very skilled at laser tag. Throughout the game we were each coaching our respective teams, pointing out where to find bases, etc. I could sense that those boys were expecting an easy victory being on Joe's team. And that in and of itself was enough for me to take it up a notch. I knew the girls on my team were inexperienced players, so it was all the more important to me to do well for our "girls team" because it seemed like a chance to be something of a female role model if I could demonstrate that...

That may seem like I'm putting too much emphasis on that role model concept, but really there are not nearly so many women playing laser tag as men, sometimes I'm the only one, so if there's a chance to model good playing for the girls and help them develop interest...well I think that matters. I know it does. After all, I was a young girl intrigued by laser tag once and I'll just say that there's a reason I took the name Tivia. So my tiny contribution for the night towards female empowerment was to play well and rock it...but it still boiled down to essentially a one on one with a few more targets.

Third and fourth games were more of the same and Joe and I had scores so close that a single well placed shot could have flip-flopped the outcome. The results were virtually negligible and THAT made for some excellent practice and I'm glad he gave me a run for my money...especially after leaving early last time because things had gotten too redundant. This night was totally worthwhile with a really good challenge.

By the fifth game a couple of the little ones were following my lead. There were a couple more who went their own way on a separate team. Meanwhile Joe made himself a team of one and I huddled my two followers together and gave them a simple directive to start the next game. To their credit they enthusiastically agreed to the strategy I laid out. Unfortunately, knowing left from right would have been essential to accomplishing the goal and when I said go left they were ready to go...and then promptly ran off to the right. Smile and sigh. So it was both an evening of getting in some good quality solo competition and also feeling like a bit of a mentor, which is always cool.

By 10:30 we had both decided to call it a night there, but I had a second wind and went over to the Warehouse for whatever games I could get in before the night was over. It's nice to appreciate what a difference there is between centers and I almost went here at the beginning of the night anyhow. Until the Armageddon next month I will continue to try to balance my playing locations, cities and systems so as to not get stagnant with just one experience, however if it were simply a question of where do I enjoy playing the most...this place takes it. I was waved into the game going in and got in a nice round of...I don't even know what game. Something basic. Then I was invited into a game of Gladiator which I had never experienced before. I enjoy learning new game formats. It was explained to me that in this game all players would start out with ten lives that would decrease when you got shot. However, for every four players that you tag you can earn one of those lives back. If you lose them all you are done. So basically it goes to either last man (or woman) standing or best of who's left when the clock runs out. This was fun. I ended up winning this round and afterwards had a nice chat with one of the guys who had gone into the game with his young son.

The guy's name was Dak and we had a nice talk about our respective laser tag experiences. He told me that he had played the laser tag at the very first center opened in know where this is going! I was very excited to hear he had played at the original Photon center and I pulled up some photos on my phone of the Photon experience and some of the promotional photos I have from that very facility. So nice to meet someone who was actually there. Although I realize after having used my Tiviachick site to show photos to people two days in a row that it is seriously in need of a facelift. After spending as much time as I did developing the Photon Forever website I am starting to cringe as I look at the platform I used as a launching point. I also feel like it could be more focused on my overall laser tag experiences, so keep an eye out because in the very near future the Tiviachick site is going to be revamped and relaunched. After two full nights of laser tag in a row I decided to call it a night right there so I could spend some time working on the site after a good night's sleep. Excellent way to end the night.

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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Top Ten and A Photonian Conversion

Sounds like an episode of the Big Bang Theory, doesn't it? More on that as we get there.

Several cool things happened at the laser tag center last night. First, the unexpectedness of walking up to buy my wristband for the night and being told that the owner had comped it and told the girl at the counter not to charge me. It was a nice gesture in thanks of a nice gesture and I appreciate it...thanks!

Next, the scoreboard with the top ten players list has been updated...and I'm on it!

As this was the first time my average would qualify for consideration I was interested to see whether it was high enough to land on the board. I suspected that after the last few "educational" rounds that it might be lowered enough to be right on the fringe...I was right and only by the skin of my teeth did my average hold, but at least my name is up there. My goal was to make the list in the first month I was eligible and, cool, it happened. I'm not suggesting this particular average is the triumph of all laser tag (far from it) and it was pointed out to me that there's small triumph in following someone who uses the name "I Lick Windows" (ahh...what's in a name), but still, not bad for openers. Next month's goal will be to raise that average back to where I can hopefully rise higher on the list. It will mean playing again as Tivia instead of what I've been doing (practicing under my other membership). However, I think it can...and accomplished.

In the briefing room for the first game after I arrived there was a decent sized group and above the din someone calls out "Can we play Photon?" Ah...the young guy from the last couple of weeks has returned and is requesting his new favorite game. Love it! Although the owner (also acting as game master for the night) points out that there are only three people in the room that would know or enjoy playing Photon (as he points to himself, me and the guy who suggested it), it's quite cool to me that it's now even on the radar. This is what I call the Photonian conversion. Someone who did not experience Photon firsthand (there's a big age disparity even between me and gen 1 players, let alone this guy), had never even heard of the game before is now requesting it every week. I am going to take a bit of credit for that...hell, I'm going to take all the credit for introducing him to it since up until a couple of weeks ago he had no idea such a game existed. We brought one over to the light :) I happily took this opportunity to pull up some photos of me at Phocon wearing the original Photon equipment and showing him what it was like. Ah, the memories.

Well, we didn't actually play Photon this night, which was fine because my purpose right now is to improve my Laserforce skills before the Armageddon tournament, so I signed in as Tiv-D...this has its own set of pros and cons. My first couple of scores were good and I would have liked to have them count towards boosting my average on my other membership. However, I think it's more important right now that I put the emphasis on developing my skills ahead of racking up points. Still, it's going to be interesting discerning which games are best for practice at this point versus which games will help contribute to my high score goals. Ideally they will soon begin to blend, but I am very focused on achieving specific things and for the time being I'm going to do what I think will help me most in the end run without sweating the scores. In a backwards kind of way that's one of the great things about Photon...if it were considered a standard game (which it is not) there would be no question about how it would impact my would kill it every time :)

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