Sunday, February 11, 2018

Twinning Arenas

I’ve been fortunate enough to play in quite a few laser tag arenas (145 as of this writing) which has afforded me the chance to compare a lot of different map layouts, game styles and design aesthetics. And one thing that I’ve noticed is that a lot of arenas really look a lot alike, which is why I always comment when I see one that is distinctively different. I can identify the hallmarks of a Creative Works arena instantly (and that is not a criticism, just a statement of fact) and that is fine because they make some cool looking props and walls. However, I recently noticed a phenomenon that I want to discuss…twinning arenas.

I’m not talking about identical layouts since every space is different. I’m also not talking about corporate consistency (such as seeing that neon spider-monster painted on the walls at every Quest arena that hasn’t been recently updated or the tubes and arches that are easily identifiable as specific to Tron). No, what I’m talking about is the sense of déjà vu that I get when I see arenas that unintentionally have the same look as many others out there…and they probably don’t even know it. I was prompted to look back on photos from my previous blog entries after my most recent trip to Long Island. Let me illustrate my point with a few photos side by side for comparison from several different arenas.

These pics were taken at three different arenas. Again, this is absolutely not a criticism, just an interesting (to me) observation. I enjoyed playing at all these places and I also realize that it’s quite unlikely that anyone else is ever going to compare and contrast with pics like this so the fact that there are similarities to “somewhere out there” has zero bearing on having an enjoyable experience. But to me I can’t help but both smile and groan every time I notice what I call “those walls” that seem to pop up everywhere I go. :) The thing about patterns is you don’t always see them emerge right away, so I wonder if there are examples I’ve seen that I did not document in photos. Probably. But as I look back on the pictures I did take (based on what was most interesting to me at the time) I’ve noticed a few other examples of twinning arenas and I just think this is kind of a fun thing to take a look at. I have noted on the picture the name of the arena where it was taken.

More examples of “those walls” taken at other arenas besides the ones shown above…

I will concede that the walls at Bounce Milwaukee seem to be a slight variant.

This airbrushed cowboy showed up in a couple of locations. It’s coincidence I liked it enough to photograph it in both spots without even realizing there was a pattern until later. Next time I see a western theme you KNOW I will be looking for him to turn up again. :)

Here are some very similar flaming pyramids among the Aztec ruins at three different arenas…

And finally, this industrial prop looked very cool the first time I saw it. At this point I’ve seen it now a few times…

Uncanny? What can I say, I find this kind of thing interesting and I hope you do as well. These were all great places to play tag and the design elements are definitely impressive the first time you see them, but for me being aware of this pattern just reinforces it when I find a truly unique arena. I’ll be exploring some arenas in the southern part of the U.S. fairly soon so I look forward to seeing what similarities or distinct differences I find along that journey as I continue towards my goal of playing laser tag in all 50 states! :)

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Bad Dress Rehearsal, Great Show

There’s an old theatrical superstition that says if you have a bad dress rehearsal you will have a great show. Well, I certainly hope the same applies in laser tag. Even though the next “show” is still a couple of weeks away, I went in treating last night as my “rehearsal” time to practice the relevant game formats and get my game polished up. I figured it’s an asset to be able to get in some practice in my home arena before I travel to compete out of state again and it would probably give me a good confidence boost to have a night just to do well at home in Syracuse first. Well…let’s just say that did NOT happen last night! XD

At the beginning of the night I made a request to play a few specific special format games including Shadows, Dead Aim and Highlander. All these games went ok, but just not good enough for me. I have high expectations for myself and need to remember that I’m not here to prove anything to anyone else. And yet I feel like I need a do-over (I suppose that’s what next week will be) because my ego got hammered all night long. The group I played with was decent and certainly made me work harder than I expected. And when that proved to not be enough (in these public games no less!) it really made me take a step back. I’m not satisfied with my own performance from last night because I didn’t meet my own expectations and I guess that just means I need another “rehearsal” to get myself back on track. However, if I’m going to have an off night it’s way better that it happen here and now when it doesn’t matter rather than later on when it counts.

It may not have helped that I got a huge build up at the beginning of the night with an introduction as a “tournament player” that always turns me into more of a “trophy target”. Personally I prefer to be underestimated at the start and over-deliver by the end. But I’m not complaining and it clearly did set the bar higher. I suppose the night both did and un-did exactly what I needed it to. It did give me a decent go around with the formats I wanted to work on. And it un-did any premature sense of “I got this” that might have been floating around in my head just because I happened to win the last time I played this event that I’m prepping for. After a game of…what was it, Royal Rumble?...when I got eliminated earlier than anticipated Tom asked me what happened with a bit of disbelief and all I could say was that this was just not my night and on some nights getting your ego beaten down is a good thing as it keeps you from becoming (fill in the blank) too full of yourself. So a little bit of humble pie can be beneficial too. I know my place in the LF spectrum and I think what I gained from last night is a reminder that even though I’m choosing to be in different kinds of competition than some others from this site, when it’s “show time” I need to be ready to play as hard as I can and not take anything for granted. So I will consider last night a beneficial practice, albeit a REALLY bad dress rehearsal and take only the positive from it to put into making a great show. :)
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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Tag Apparel from Australia

Gotta say, I am absolutely loving my new hoodie that just arrived today from the land down under! The Melbourne Laser Tag Association (MLTA) did a great job putting together this design with their logo on the front and my code name with a Helios Pro phaser silhouette on the back.

Such a great way to show some love for my favorite laser tag system and also my support from afar for this laser tag league that participates in the Zone Laser Tag Australasian Championships. You can see more about that here…

Someday I hope to have the chance to play laser tag in Australia and since I’m a Zone girl I’m especially proud to sport this shirt that combines a lot of cool elements including a sponsorship on the sleeve (shout out!) from Timezone.

Big thanks to Kat for coordinating the sales for this hoodie and accommodating a couple of international requests so that players like me can represent from halfway around the world. I will wear it proudly. :)

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Leaving Long Island, Tron On The Way Back

The last laser tag location I got to play on Long Island was at Laser Bounce.

Here we got to play some Lasertron 10.

The arena was on the small side and set up a little differently than I expected. We were told to shoot the bases which were located at each side’s painted alien.

However, the game master also instructed that there were hidden targets on the towers. Now, this was an unusual turn of phrase because where these targets were “hidden” was actually on the arch where I would normally look for a base anyhow…so it sort of sounded like it was presented backwards, but a distinction without a real difference.

The game went for a solid 15 minutes (instead of being broken up into a couple of shorter rounds as I am accustomed to with Tron) so running back and forth across this arena got exhausting rather quickly.

But all in all it was a good game and a great way to end this visit to Long Island.

Then on the way back a mid-point stop brought us to Kingston Lanes where there was more Tron to be played. This time it was a free for all in their arena adjacent to the main attraction here, a bowling alley. After registering at the computer terminal it was time to put on another pack for a final game before heading home.

I really prefer free for all Tron games and this one was all about being stealth. I love that! This was a chill, low key way to end the trip and I really enjoyed. This site had more of a cool tone with its blue lights and sleek arena design.

What a great, somewhat impromptu weekend adventure going to and from all these arenas and traveling down on Long Island. I absolutely love getting to have a wide variety of laser tag experiences. This will certainly tide me over until my next multi-state trip that will be coming up soon. What a great time I had exploring so much tag in southern NY!

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Q-Zar NY

The main reason I wanted to tag on Long Island was to have a chance to visit Q-Zar NY. After having such a great time playing at Q-Zar in Concord, CA I wanted to experience the game again in a real arena (not just in a ‘geddon setting) and since the options are pretty limited (to Concord, CA, Carle Place, NY or Tampa, FL) this was the main catalyst for my weekend excursion.

Now, since the choices are few and far between I can really only compare between the NY and CA sites. NY definitely felt smaller. The lobby area was packed with people and it felt a little bit like we were sardines. After logging my info at the ipad station I made my way to the front to get game passes for the night.

There was a display set up at the counter with their merchandise.

The souvenir choices were a little more limited. I asked if they had t-shirts (they did not) and the guy behind the counter jokingly offered to sell me the one off his back for a dollar. This guy clearly didn’t expect me to say “SOLD!” :) I was hoping their selection would be more like what I purchased in Concord (because I wanted to get another metal Q-Zar water bottle), but I still found a few goodies to take home while waiting for the games to be called.

Once inside the briefing room I reviewed the map…

And we sat to watch the briefing video. Where in CA I was impressed with the video briefing that seemed contemporary and clear, this one was a little more cartoonish. I’m really not sure if these videos were produced by the company or by an individual connected with the site.

I felt pretty good about this game even though my score put me somewhere in the middle of the pack. That’s ok though. For the number of times I will ever get to play I was glad just to have an enjoyable time playing again without any pressure. I really wish there were more options because I think I could do well with this system if I had an opportunity to really practice.

By the time we were done playing Q-Zar I was exhausted from a full day of travel and tag…but after a chance to eat a late dinner and crash at the hotel I knew I would be ready for more tomorrow!

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Lazerland of LI

OMG, Lazerland of LI was PACKED on a Saturday night! When I went to the counter to buy my game passes I asked if I could get into the game that was going in at that moment. However, there was no chance of that. In fact I was sent to wait in a line for the next opportunity and just barely got into that game because they had so many people there waiting for a chance to play some Nexus in the arena. Now THIS is the kind of game I was looking forward to!

The arena was two levels and that made it feel a lot bigger than it probably was (although it was certainly a decent sized space). It almost felt like two separate games were being played between the two levels. The only thing I really wasn’t wild about was that instead of ramps they had stairs leading to the top.

I honestly feel that stairs should never be built into an arena. Even when you tell people not to run there is bound to be some quick movement. While I was there I watched two grown adults who were not moving all that quickly inadvertently knock each other down just from not watching where they were going, so I hate to see stairs brought into the mix as well. And I was particularly cautious going up and down between the two levels. But other than that I thought this was a cool arena and I was glad to see how busy they were.

I also took the opportunity to note…those walls! But I’ll have a bit more to say about that in a future post. :)

My favorite part of this visit (besides getting the high score)…

…would have to be the shopping for tag swag! They had a nice assortment of promo items for sale, so I picked up a hoodie, a t-shirt and a water bottle for my collection. What can I say, shopping and laser tag are definitely the best combination of my favorite things to do!
Thanks Lazerland of LI for a great time!

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Karma Is A...Ruthless Shooter :)

The next stop was a business owned by the family of Mike O., one of my Baltigeddon teammates from a couple of years ago. It was actually a nice surprise to cross paths with him again as we entered into the lobby of Active Kidz, which had a name that (thankfully) did not fully describe the turnout of players. They actually had a nice blend of all ages including kids, teens and adults to make for a decent game of Laserforce. Unfortunately, they were not set up to accept my membership card to give me a proper level balance, so I was sent in as a level one just like everyone else.

I grabbed a pack called Karma got ready for the first of two games.

I really enjoyed playing at this site, from targeting the reactor…

…to setting off the warbot…

…and taking the bases while enjoying a couple of very full standard games.

Well, as you might expect Karma is a…ruthless shooter. Yep, we’ll end the sentence that way. I played appropriately (i.e. I wasn’t the “try hard” I could have been), but I still took first in both games…I really wish I could have had that 19,702 on my account to bump up my average!

And my thanks to Amir (the game master) for permitting me to take some arena pics afterwards (as they have signs posted about this I really do appreciate the accommodation they made for this blog). Had a great time. And Mike…hope to see you again at the next ‘geddon!

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Long Island Laser Tagging...First Stop, Laser Kingdom

For awhile now I’ve wanted make a trip down to Long Island for a weekend just to check out the tag sites. So when my original weekend plans got changed at the last minute I decided that this was the perfect time to do it.

First stop once we got to Long Island was the Laser Kingdom in Farmingdale. There are actually two Laser Kingdom locations, but timing would not allow a visit to the Coram site to happen this trip.

We walked in to see a game in progress through the big observation window. They were playing some classic Hyper Blast in an “unusual terrain”. Once inside I got a chance to check out their arena design. It was a mountainous space design with lots of cave-like structures in place of traditional arena walls. These were fun!

I always enjoy an unusual design and aesthetic. Plus I don’t play Hyper Blast all that often. This was a smaller arena, but a worthwhile visit to start the weekend adventure…and they had some tag swag for me to take home too!

Maybe next time I’ll get to the Coram location, but for now I was happy with one stop at the Laser Kingdom before continuing my way down the Long Island Expressway. :)
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