Thursday, August 27, 2015

Playing in Philly

OK, technically this arena is just outside of Philadelphia in Bensalem, but I was really glad to get an opportunity to check out the Ultrazone where we will be playing in the tournament in a few weeks. I have to say I was really impressed! When we walked in there was a full house in the lobby. A great crowd, predominantly adults, and it looked like they have a thriving playing scene out here...which makes obvious sense and was nice to see. I met the organizer of the event who was great and got us into a game immediately. My first game I really didn't play...took a shot here or there, but my primary focus was walking through the arena to get a feel for the place and some familiarity with the layout. The second game however, I played it out. Considering the location and that it was a packed game with 37 players, it meant more than usual to come out of that game and find my pack number was in first place!

Yay to that...and time to call it a night early because between work and travel I had been on the road for over twelve hours. We'd return the next day.

The next day I arrived with Paul and Damon (my Philly based friend) and we were WAY too early for anyone else...which I expected at that hour. However, it was great because the game masters there let me take a tour of the arena before we started a game and I was able to get some nice insights into this arena that I wasn't able to appreciate the night before.

We played a one on one on one game, but decided that with just the three of us we would move on. It's cool, I'll have a chance to play again soon. I didn't play as much as I hoped this time around, but the time I got there was really worthwhile and I look forward to going back to Ultrazone soon.

Comments or questions?

The Pit Stop

Playing catch up from last weekend...

On a recent weekend excursion to Pennsylvania Paul and I decided to make a pit stop along the way to a laser tag arena I knew nothing about other than it was close to our route. We found it listed on as using Zone Nexus so I thought it would be a great opportunity to sample another Zone arena for practice. As it turns out...not so much.

Through no fault of the facility this turned out to be a waste of twenty minutes of time that we could have continued driving. You see, while it is correct that they were using Nexus equipment (which made this sign out front ironically incorrect)... was way too generous to use the word "arena" to describe the playing area. While I give them points for artistry, this was in essence a postage stamp of a room about the length of my living room/dining room area.

One level, a few barriers that were largely waist high on us (clearly intended for kids) and before entering I asked about bases. The girl at the counter looked at me quizzically and said I could start at either end of the room that I wanted. I clarified that I was asking if there were bases to shoot and she said "no, I don't think so". And since there were in fact bases on the ceiling corners her lack of awareness of them was mystifying to me. But we had already paid, so we suited up and got ready to go in...we were the only two people playing.

This is where the story gets stupidly embarrassing. It's a tiny room...with two players. Me (you know about me) and Paul who is on a competitive paintball team and is also former military...we each adopt a spot and try to snipe the other...and we are both missing! A LOT!

I blame the equipment to some degree. I had shots register on him significantly more than he did on me, but during the second game he called time out, convinced that even though his phaser was able to tag my vest it was not tagging the base properly...and he was correct. The shots felt nothing like I am used to even on Nexus and the whole experience was...let's say cute, but not productive. Again, through no fault of the might be a fun first laser tag experience for young kids, but I had no idea what we were walking into until we were already there. Sigh...moving on.

Comments or questions?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Why Can't They All Be Like This?

After a couple of quiet Friday nights I was very happy to see a good crowd out for laser tag last night. With the tournament a couple of weeks away we wanted to practice as much as possible and it is of course much better with a full house and quality players. Only two out of three of us from the local arm of the team made it out, but Joe and I took the opportunity to employ some practice strategy and rotation between offense, defense and upper level that I think was really beneficial. We also put a lot more emphasis on playing like we will in the event and following the rules regardless of what everyone else was doing. It's a little frustrating in some ways for example to be the only one evacuating a base when everyone else is playing in there regardless of whether they have been tagged out. And various other things like that. But we were not there to worry about what others were doing. Instead last night was about getting ready and I felt really good about how we practiced together and communicated. More often than not when Joe and I are both at the arena we land on different teams to make for stronger competition, but working on teaming up will be very beneficial.

Tonight it seemed I had gotten my game back. The top score went to either Joe or to me every time. This time out I took the majority of the games, but we were always neck and neck for the first or second placement, so between us we had a lock on the night.

Most of the games were very well populated. I took note during one game I overheard an interesting conversation between members of the other team who were talking about us. It went like this...

"How are they so good?"
"They're Iike professionals."
"I don't think there's such a thing as professional laser tag."
"Yeah there is, I asked the guy."

It makes you feel good to hear something like that. Of course in the bigger picture of the tournament we are still little fish, but it was a nice sentiment nonetheless.  And that game I had to prove my worth in offense. This game was fairly challenging for base cracking. In a game with 32 players, no less than 20 of them were all on one base...that I needed...and because everyone was there that was good for a lot of easy points, but also a difficult base to crack because I was the only one following the evacuation rules and also, just the math with that many in one spot...if I got ten of them out there were still ten active and aiming at me...but I did it. :)

By then it was getting later in the evening and a good number of people called it a night. Then it was just me with the handful of teens who stuck it out for the duration. Around this point I got the least satisfying win of all because half my team stood in a corner singing show tunes throughout the game. I am not kidding...did not play, sang a medley from Sweeney Todd...sigh. So I played it out pretty much alone against the other teams, but you can tell when the enthusiasm for the evening has dwindled and it was about time to call it a night. Still, the majority of the night was excellent practice and I wish that they could all be like this!

Comments or questions?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Something for the Laser Tag Museum

After learning a bit about the Laser Tag Museum in Louisville, KY and how the museum is preserving the history of the laser tag industry I knew I wanted to contribute to its collection in some way. For right now the majority of my laser tag collectibles are staying part of my private collection, but considering how great an impact Photon has had on me it seemed fitting to donate one of the rarities I had acquired that relates back to that. I was glad to give the museum a piece they did not yet have and appreciate the acknowledgement on their website.

I also appreciate the time taken by curator Erik Guthrie to enhance my website documentation of this facet of laser tag history.

Next year I plan to visit the museum and check out their collection in person!

Comments or questions?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Defender of the Little Ones

Where is everyone tonight? It seems I will not be getting much practice time, but I'm already here so we will make the most of it.

Being the defender of the little ones...this is actually a lot harder than it sounds. I am for all intents and purposes playing alone right now among a swarm of young kids. Well, not all of them, but enough that it's not really fair to call this practice. So, I thought instead I'd practice something different. I am practicing "selective" targeting...i.e. only aiming at people over four feet tall. I waited until the kids had chosen their teams and then hopped on the team with the smallest players (meaning they would already be out of the way as targets). I walked the game and tried my best to avoid targeting the kids (well, unless they were aiming their phaser directly at wasn't a suicide mission). I can't say there wasn't collateral damage, but the effort was made.

Second game, harder to get on the appropriate team, but let the record show I tried. I waited until all the kids had picked teams and based on that I intended to play on the blue team when I saw a few older players switch over to green...and then all the kids followed and the older ones switched back to blue! No good. So forget it, I went red...less players and a few kids. I made an EXTRA effort to not aim at the kids...but the older ones are not seeing this as a nice gesture and my personal attempt to not be "that mean lady". Clearly they think I am just targeting them, which is true to an extent, but it's not out of malice. 

Interestingly enough, the kids think I am a rock star. Good for the ego. A few of them have taken to calling me "the master". This night has a few perks after all :)

A couple of games later a group went in and evenly split up between red and blue, so I went green to be a team of one. Then the littlest player of all comes over and says "I'm on your team". So this game I had a shadow the entire time. I think I'll nickname him "the intern". :)

"The intern" stayed right underfoot all night, but that was fine. I'm actually surprised a child that young kept going until 11:00. I chatted with his godfather who brought the young boy and his brother. Very nice person and it was nice to watch his interaction with these kids in the game. The evening was not challenging, but it was heartening. Sometimes a night like this is a good thing.

Comments or questions?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Tuesday Night Tag

Past experience has taught me that weeknights are generally a waste of time for trying to play laser tag, but this is not the case in Albany. Their wristband nights are on Tuesday and Thursday rather than Friday and Saturday (as is the case in Syracuse) so they seem to pull a better crowd on these evenings. And since I am not going to be able to get out there on Thursday I thought some Tuesday night tag would be well worth exploring...and it was.

First game out was solid...I won, but exerted a little bit of effort, so it was the right combination to start the night. During the second game two unusual things happened. First, Paul joined me to play. Second, they were doing some repair work on the bridge and had caution tape blocking off a portion of it. It was early, so a ton of kids got in on that game and because of the blockage on the bridge there was one less exit route and they were constantly and literally underfoot. Now, kids in the game are fine, but the congested traffic on the bridge was problematic...I felt like a cranky old lady playing while stepping over and around them! I only took third and Paul pulled second…so you know I couldn't let that stand :) I took the high point win on every game that followed that night until Paul left (he only stuck it out for a few rounds) and then even afterwards. However, I just was not feeling it tonight, scores aside. 

A little after 8 o'clock I left in a weird fog, deciding to call it a night early. That is very out of character for me. Oddly, I felt ready to leave because of that winning streak. At that point I had taken first in six out of seven games (the one with the kids underfoot being the was predominantly an older group the rest of the night) and I was doing little more than holding the bridge and sniping. It just didn't feel like purposeful playing and I had no heart in it. It felt like I was just denying the others a chance. Really, I had nothing left to prove here and if I wasn't going to use this for some decent practice time for the tournament, what was even the point?

I did leave. I drove around the block, got a cup of coffee, started to head home and then turned my car around and headed back towards the arena. If this night had up to now just been target practice and not quality playing practice that's on me. I did not plan my night around this trip only to sacrifice the last hour because I "wasn't into it" this evening. So, mental reset time. LET'S PLAY TAG!

I went back in and found a group was about to go in. Ok, we're going to work on keeping sensors unblocked (high shooting is easier with infusion packs, but I would make a conscious effort this round) and I was ready to play it out hard...

One player (a teenage guy on the other team) barreled up the bridge with support following behind. He said "I suggest if you don't want to lose that you leave this bridge. You see...I have the pack with invincibility." To which I replied (with all the Batman I could put into my voice) "I think not. You Tivia." Game on, my friend, game on. And you know what happened?

That's right. There was some appropriate irony that I had picked the pack called "The Dark Knight" :)

If we had stopped right there it still would have been well worth it that I returned to the arena. That game (in fair part due to that teenager's challenging me) was played with some fire and enthusiasm. Thank you to all for making it a quality game.

Then things got quieter. There were a couple of guys there who could have played the last game, but as it ended up Lexy (who works here, but had the night off and was just playing as a civilian tonight) and I went in for a one on one. As it happens, Lexy is the only person who has ever beaten me in a one on one in this arena, so this was bound to be a good rematch. The game was one of the best of the night. I thoroughly enjoyed playing this round. I took the Lexy, we're one and one now. Tiebreaker next time? :)

It has been easier than I thought to work trips to Albany into my schedule during the week. After the last few times going out there on a Tuesday or Thursday I can see these are definitely the nights to focus on which is great because that leaves my weekends free for Syracuse. This is about as balanced a Zone regimen as I think I could ask for in this last month preparing for the tournament. Philly Invites, here I come!

Comments or questions?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Draft

Short of counting those dreaded gym class activities like picking teams for kickball when I was in elementary school, I can't say I have ever been part of a "draft pick"...until last night. Although I am on a pre-determined team (All About That Base) for the upcoming Philadelphia tournament there will be a second round of competition with teams that were decided by a draft selection that took place yesterday online. What a weird experience!

The first weird thing is the fact that we were assigned ratings for a playing ability based on… I haven't a clue what. When I registered I was asked to give a 1 to 10 numeric assessment on how I perform in areas of offense, defense and communication. The flaw with that is two-fold… One, who can truly honestly assess their own abilities? Laser tag is an ego minefield and I'll own my little piece of that too. Second, since I have only had one big tournament experience so far (Armageddon) the only way I can compare myself high or low is in relation to what I saw in that scenario and what I know to be true in my home arena...and that gap is as wide is the Grand Canyon! So coming up with an accurate ranking to begin with is difficult. Then it was subsequently adjusted, so it isn't as if the numbers I provided were the end of the story. I think the adjustments were intended to be made by people who knew your playing ability and could balance out a fair assessment. However, the only people from the Syracuse area in this mix are other new players connected with my team, so nobody else here really knows any of us well enough yet to make any assessment at all. And based on the listed assessments of others, either this whole system is ridiculously skewed or just a lot of fluff and nonsense to make or break egos with little to no empirical value. I don't say that because I have any problem with my own assessment (I'm actually fine with it), but simply from observing those of others.

In the tournament scene I am a very green newbie. I know that most of these players involved have not got a clue who I am. That's understandable. This couldn't have been more strikingly apparent than while watching the live feed on the screen during the draft and hearing the voices in the background of the captains preparing for their selections. One voice loudly asked "can somebody tell me who the f*** Tivia is?" Paul thinks I need to have that printed as a slogan on a t-shirt :)


Another odd thing about this draft was how the rules and guidelines seemed to change throughout the process (as several people noted as it was happening. At one point the question of having at least two female players per team was raised. Personally, I resent the notion that a team must fill a quota of women as that makes us seem perceived as less capable, but I'm pretty sure that one fell by the wayside anyhow.

Now, I have realistic expectations of myself and do clearly understand that regardless of what I do locally that I am not amongst the top of the crop players in this realm (yet). Although I thought I had some awareness and comprehension of a few very impressive veteran players and either I am so far off base it's not funny or there's a lot more being factored here. Regardless, this is how the draft shook out...

Well, I made out better than kickball not being picked last. Although this is another area where the draft was bizarre, as I seriously doubt the woman actually picked last deserved that. But ultimately the draft is just a means to an end...more teams to play more laser tag. So, back to practice in hopes that by the end of this all nobody will be asking "who the f*** is Tivia?" any longer. :)

Comments or questions?

Saturday, August 8, 2015

A Nexus Night

Last night I went to the local arena that uses Nexus equipment in order to mix things up a little and get a better feel for some of the differences. I have played here only twice ever, so it is not as instantly familiar to me as the feel of the packs/phasers at the other arenas. There are different sound indicators, no courtesy shot that I could identify and a slightly different feel when taking a shot and making the tag. The bases are a bit different also and, though we did not take advantage of it, I know the system is capable of a much wider range of game functions than just the basics.

I've started and restarted writing about this experience several times, deleting and beginning again because, you see, last night felt really "meh". It was not because of the game...I was consistently pulling either first or second place, so this feeling isn't because of how I was doing personally. It's more a feeling of not being particularly welcome to this scene by some of the regulars...but I payed my money at the door so I was going to power through for as much practice as I could squeeze out anyway. Here's how it went...

This night was played with a handful of guys in their twenties, a handful of teen/young adult women, a couple parents and a few kids. And yet, for some reason the first vibe that hit me in the briefing room was apprehension and I don't really know why. They looked like they were regular players, but certainly no more formidable than anyone else I might cross paths with in another game. Certainly nothing that would intimidate me. Still, I immediately felt like the outsider. Since this is not really an arena where I plan to spend a lot of time it's not really a big deal, so I figured I'd just ignore the vibe and focus on practice.

The first game was a surprise to me...I lost the top spot because of something stupid. I know in this arena you can get each opposing base twice (that's four base hits in all). And if each base is worth 2001 points (which was new info to the game master who was insistent it was a flat 2000 until I pointed out the stray digit at the end of each player's score) then why did mine end with a three when I know enough to (and did) shoot all four? Either one of my base hits didn't register or I thought I got it when someone else actually did. Whatever the case, I did not have four bases on the screen, which knocked my points down. Meaning the base I thought I got that did not count/register cost me the points that would have been enough to win that first game for me. Instead I was shy about 1000 points instead of ahead by 1000. Sigh. Losing to a better player is one thing. Losing due to carelessness or error is something else entirely. I am not letting that happen again.

The second game I played as Marvel. I won it and proved my point about base values to the game master who had never before noticed or been aware of why the score would end with an odd extra number.

The third and fourth games I came in second to a veteran player at this arena named Douglas. He was good competition and a very nice person. We chatted a bit about the tournament, the differences in the game and the fact that I was clearly not very popular tonight among the teen girls. They have quite vocally expressed that they hate that I am tagging them and there are a couple who seem to think I am shooting them in particular and they have launched a little vendetta against me it seems...of course this is not the case, I'm just aiming for whomever is on the other team. Nothing personal ladies. Cue the music..."Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I'll go eat some worms"...and show up in Philly better prepared. I am here for practice and that's all I am concerning myself with tonight. Yep, there's where I was picking up the vibe.

However, I do have one thing to address. Ok, there are a few players in here who have learned some terminology and seem to like to show it off. Unfortunately, their definition needs work. They are very vocal about "respawning" short, the point they are addressing is that if a player has been shot it's just not sporting to follow them around during the eight seconds it takes their pack to come up again. Absolutely, I'm sure we can all agree not to follow people and to play nice. However, that is NOT the same as shooting a player who makes no effort to move or hide and just stands right in front of you.  Especially if while standing there they are aiming their phaser right at you. It's also not the same as tagging a player who inadvertently happens to cross your path at the same time their pack comes up. And it's not the same as you standing in one spot and sniping what you see if they run into your line of vision instead of seeking out a safe place to regroup. Following is not nice. But players over the age of 14 whining about being shot in fair game is also not nice...and damn annoying. The arena we are playing in tonight is one of the smallest I've ever played, so the game is fairly close quarters. The guys are great competition, but keep landing on my team. Meanwhile others are taking this game too personally when it is really not.

The fifth game I again took first with the Marvel pack. 

The sixth game went back to Douglas and we went back and forth with it. He's quite good on his home turf. I started using the Phantom pack at this point.

This was about the point where I began to once again ponder scoring values. Every now and again I wonder how it is possible for the average scores to be so vastly different between arenas playing a similar game. So I made some specific inquiries to the management of my local arenas and these are the values they confirmed (although these values may not be the same for every arena)...

Nexus center: 50 shoulder, 100 front, 200 back, 50 phaser, 2001 base

Rift center: 50 shoulder, 50 front, 100 back, 50 phaser, 2000 base

Infusion center: 100 shoulder, 200 front, 100 back, 50 phaser, 2000 base

Until putting that down side by side I kind of thought they were all relatively equal. Well, that puts in perspective why the outcomes between arenas are what they are. Although, just as a side note, I appreciate that the Infusion packs from the night before have a feature to additionally compliment good performance. Beyond higher scores, the speakers in these packs will say the following things in periodic succession when you reach a certain amount of uninterrupted tags without being tagged out yourself...

Well done
Zone God

Gender bias aside, I love when my pack calls me a "Zone God". However, my Nexus pack had no such compliments for me this night. But it's ok. I'll settle for a few good wins and a chance to shake up some new practice opportunities. And that was my Nexus night.

Comments or questions?

Friday, August 7, 2015


Sometimes a little perspective goes a very long way. Last night I had an interesting evening playing in Albany. I went in primed to play a perfect night and aim for the top score each game. Sure, you could say that's usually my goal, but after last week's streak of success here I felt pretty confident I could pull it off. However, for a very good reason which you will understand shortly I did NOT go after the win every game...and yet I really enjoyed what actually happened.

I chatted with two people and besides them I couldn't even tell you who was in that first game. These two were a father and son team (the son is headed into the army so I want to take a moment to say thank you Austin for your service in advance) and they apparently play at this arena all the time and yet somehow this was the first time we had crossed paths. I went in fully expecting to win...and so did they.

That first game I came in second to the son by a small margin. I was surprised (and truth be told, agitated I wasn't going to get my perfect night). I set my resolve to not let that happen twice and the next game I went in phasers blazing...except that I got a bad pack and my phaser wasn't blazing or doing much of anything else. A quick switch to a new pack and phasers were blazing again. I made up for lost time and pulled out the win in spite of it. Afterwards those guys came up to me and they said "we're very used to winning here, so when you beat us that last game it kind of shook things up". Thank you guys. I told them I was also used to winning so it would be an interesting night as we collectively realized who the main competition was going to be. However, moments later it really did become an interesting night in a whole different way and suddenly winning didn't matter anymore.

A group of close to twenty players arrived. They were special needs adults, I assumed coming from a local ARC group or the like. The guys disappeared from this game, but I decided to go in...let me be clear, NOT to play against this group, but instead to help lend some support if I could. I showed a couple of them how to put on the pack and buckle the sides. This was a brand new experience for these players and upon walking into the arena it was clear that most did not quite know what to do from there and there. The side wearing red clumped together on one side of the bridge while the side wearing blue clumped together on the ground level on the other side until a game master encouraged them to spread out. So I decided to help as many of them as possible to get bases. I walked up to one man and asked if he wanted to get a base and he excitedly said yes so I led him to where the base was and gave him directions on how to shoot at the green lights three times. He was so happy! So I repeated this and found a young woman drifting on her own and offered her the same guidance. Teaching laser tag to these individuals was a really special experience that gave me a much needed dose of perspective. I am glad I got to be there and got to help a few of them have a little extra success.

From somewhere in this group emerged a real talent. I have a feeling I know which player it was. At the end of this unique game I helped some of them to put their packs back in the vesting room and when we exited most of the scores were on the low side, but one player got over 20,000 points. The father and son from earlier walked up afterward and asked if that score was mine. I said "no, of course not." Did they not see the group I went in with? I told them I am not a monster and was not about to do something like that to those people. All I did was I shot a base and that was it, but clearly one of them was very skillful with the shots. The guys said they did see the group and they sat it out because they didn't want to play hard against them either. So I repeat for the benefit of any of the guys at Zero Gravity who might be reading this...I swear it was not me!

A couple of games later this same group played again, I went in again to help (I shot a base and NOTHING else) and came out having only been a bystander in the arena lending a hand if I could. That game I took the Venom pack. Look at the photo and you'll see it is true that I took only the 2000 points from the base and nothing else. However, look closer at those scores...

One of those players had it all over the rest of the group and hit a score of 45,000 points! So again, I must clarify for anyone who saw me walking out of the arena and then saw that score...I did NOT do that...but a big "wow" to whichever of those players it was. I quietly said to the guys "I've never hit 45,000 when I play" and they nodded and the son said he didn't even know that was possible. I mean, when nobody is shooting back, sure it's possible. But in this scenario...well, someone in there found a new talent while this group was enjoying their night out.

These games with the special needs adults alternated against more serious games where I could play hard. From that game on any game I played against the serious players I won the top score, so if you disregard the ones where I really didn't play I almost ended up with a perfect streak with winning all the remaining games. However, that dose of perspective stayed with me and in a weird way by the end of the night I almost felt badly for winning too many times. I enjoyed playing with these guys with lots of experience in this arena and I hope I didn't play it too hard because I sensed the enthusiasm dropping by the last game (which was stealth "Midnight Madness" free for all...I kill it at stealth). I have a really competitive nature and sometimes I think I need to keep it better in check. So while I felt great about being successful for the rest of the night I also want to give credit to the very worthy competitors who gave me a wickedly good run in there. And I also want to give a shout to the other group for whom I really enjoyed being able to see spending a night enjoying learning laser tag.

Comments or questions?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Tag All Weekend and the Return of the Ducks

I started on Thursday night in Albany and then didn't stop, returning to Syracuse area on Friday and Saturday . For me Friday was marginal, So I'm tempted to skip right over to Saturday which was awesome, but I should at least make a passing note about Friday. I've had a wicked sore throat recently (I was seen by a doctor and am not currently sick, but I have had almost no voice and this throat pain for almost two weeks). So Friday night I was not in the best of moods because of that, but I wasn't going to let that slow me down. Nope...instead I let coming in second all night slow me down. Sheesh. Now, I was coming in second to Joe and I actually have great respect for his playing skills. He has gotten to be a very impressive player, but anyone who knows me knows I hate to be in the "runner-up" spot, especially when it's close. But all night long he was just a step ahead when it came to scores. Until the end of the evening when two interesting things happened.

Jared made quite a show out of telling him in front of the group that he was "not going to come in first this game". Well, call it coincidence (or not), but that game a young boy ended up with a pack that "malfunctioned" in an unusual way and a few of us realized pretty quickly that he had permanent invulnerability with that pack. And the kid knew it too :) So he had a wonderful time using that against everyone in the arena and, true to Jared's word, Joe did not come in first...the invulnerable pack was at the top of the scoreboard. At the end of the night the kid and I had a little standoff in the vesting room because I wanted to know which pack had the issue and he wanted to hide it so he could use it again next game. I said "I have a car, I can wait this out longer" and he giggled and went on his way, allowing me a moment to check out the pack. Jared watched me and wondered aloud why I was so interested in this pack and when I explained he said "Ha...and I didn't even tamper with it!" So...take that for what you will, coincidence or...whatever. But the pack was taken out of the mix before the next game.

Then Jared challenged Joe to come in last place. Not quite sure what was up with those guys, but Joe took the challenge and did absolutely nothing but walk around in the open without trying to score a single point. Frankly, it was a waste of time and a waste of a game. At the end I told him "Although losing to you irritates the hell out of me...what was that about?" That may have been sharper than intended at that point in the evening, but we all know and have better respect for a hard fought game, so Friday just ended on a soft, tired note. However, Saturday was a whole different animal.

I had not expected to be able to play on Saturday because of work schedule, but a last minute change freed up my night after all, so I returned. Joe wasn't around when I arrived for the first game, but who was? Almost 20 fully grown men...young, athletic and solid and ready to play...and I knew I was about to mop the floor :) After having come in second all of the night before my resolve was strong. Hell hath no fury like this chick after a second place slump! And these men didn't know what hit them. It was THE BEST GAME because not only was I on fire, but for anyone who looked at this group of guys going in you would have thought my coming out on top was defying all odds. But that's what lit the fire and started out an excellent night.

Unfortunately, those guys only let this girl have her fun for one game. They all left after that and the next game was just an average Saturday night mix. It was an easy second win. Then when I exited the arena and returned to the game room I saw Joe and Tyler...the return of the ducks! I'm referring to those little Jim Jim ducks from the first night I ever played with those guys. We used to play together every weekend, but t has been months since I've seen Tyler there, so this was a treat to get to play with them together. We went in as a team for the first game and it was a little nostalgic playing "like the old days". It gelled right away and I felt like I was on the same wavelength with these two other players. And ok, I came in second to Joe again, but my attitude about it was way different in this Saturday setting. Again,  respect that he has the skills. They were hard won. There was a time when I was winning every game and these guys used to look out for me and always make sure I got to play with my favorite pack, Legend. Well, harkening back to the old days Tyler found the pack first and offered it to me, but I told him that now that pack goes to Joe..."the politics have changed"...although it was cool he found it for me and I didn't even mind that I now defer that one to somebody else.

It was a great night playing with worthy competition. Between the three of us the challenges were set, the games were played hard and the points were close. It was almost the best night ever, marred only slightly for a moment by one random girl with a bad attitude. Now somewhere around the 5th or 6th game as I was trying to take out a heavily guarded base a young "lady" (older teenager, possibly very young adult) quite literally got in my face and in my space, shoving me with her phaser and physically pushing me toward the base exit. As I reminded her that physical contact is not allowed she responded with more immaturity, calling me a nasty name and told me that I was making it so it wasn't fun. Excuse me?! There were four or five of her team guarding on that base and she's coming after me for taking a shot at breaking the stronghold by myself? If she's not having fun I'll just suggest that this young woman might want to consider growing up and learning to play the game better...then she might have more fun. I do take the game seriously, but I am also a nice person, so I really find nonsense like that unnecessary. I chose to vacate simply to end it with her there because it was too stupid a situation to handle any other way. I told her "go get your base", but I must say from that point on I held back nothing when we crossed paths during the rest of that game. And I'll also say that from my vantage point I don't find it fun to play with people who think they can bully others. She may not like me or my game play style (and I don't have a clue who she is, so it matters to me even less), but she was the one who broke the game rules about physical contact and inappropriate language, so I take the high ground on this one, base or no base...of course two minutes later I went back and took the base :) Let the scores speak for themselves.

But thankfully she left after that inane little incident and the final hour was fun for everyone else. We played a game of free for all...and I won. And then in the final game of the night the "ducks" spread out, one of us on each team to make it a more level playing field, and we just had a good final game. At one point when we were in close proximity and strategically shooting at each other in one corner area Kimmy commented that the way we play almost looks like dancing. I would agree that there are times that as "moving pieces" in the game we probably do look a bit artful in our strategy. There's an even mix of comfort and challenge in playing against people whose moves you can predict to a certain degree. I guess that might be part of why I enjoy playing with these guys. It's a higher level, but an even level and was a nice way to end the night. Then, just to round out the weekend on a laser tag note, Sunday was a trip to Darien Lake to see our friends from Canada (TJ and Ankur came down for a visit), so I got this fun caricature done...

And the light shines on this weekend full of tag!

Comments or questions?