Friday, February 22, 2019

An Interview at the Laser Quest Home Office

I had a wonderful opportunity this past weekend to meet with Laser Quest North America president Theresa Stairs and vice president Jeff Morris at their home office in Mississauga, ON, Canada.

After driving about five and a half hours from New York I was really looking forward to seeing what the atmosphere was like inside the office building.

Theresa met me at the door and we made our introductions before being joined by Jeff and as they showed me to their conference room where they had such a nice surprise waiting for me…

Seeing this banner up on the wall just left me speechless! What an amazing welcome!

I’ve been communicating for awhile now with marketing manager Colleen who helped to coordinate the various parts of this visit so it was wonderful to meet her and Catherine as well.

We took some time to talk about my tag journey that had brought me here as well as the plans for my upcoming visit to Laser Quest in North Richland Hills, Texas. I’ve not yet revealed a lot about the trip I’m planning, but stay tuned for a BIG announcement about how I will be completing my journey to play laser tag in all 50 states…it’s happening soon and coinciding with International Laser Tag Day! And I want to thank Laser Quest for all their support with coordinating the celebration and event that will be taking place.

Theresa and Jeff were kind enough to take some time to talk about Laser Quest and do an interview to share a bit about this company that is one of the oldest laser tag manufacturers in the industry.

Thank you to Theresa (aka Firecracker) and Jeff (aka Showtime) and the entire home office staff for such a nice welcome and tour of your office. I also thank you very much for the tag swag!

When we had finished our visit at the office Colleen confirmed the afternoon arrangements which were for me to go take some pictures and video for promotion at the Laser Quest Mississauga arena. So off I went to meet with manager Chris and photographer Ramy to take some pics in between the afternoon games. When I arrived at the arena there was another really nice surprise waiting for me!

Laser Quest certainly knows how to make a person feel welcome! The staff there was terrific and I particularly want to thank Ramy for doing such a great job with the photography.

And here are just a few of the pics from that day.

We also took some video footage which I will share a little closer to the announcement, but let me just say it was such a cool experience to be playing laser tag while having a photographer following me all around the arena! Many thanks for making my visit to Mississauga so memorable and productive!

That evening I met up with my friend Ilana for dinner. And the next day I was ready to get out there and play some laser tag!

My first stop was to Laser Quest Whitby. This is a great site with nice, new packs.

In fact, manager Jen told me that this is the newest Laser Quest location in the Greater Toronto Area, built only about three years ago. It looks and feels new and fresh and there was a really upbeat vibe about the whole place. I joined the group going in and played an enjoyable game taking note of how that was the feel all throughout the arena. I had a great time and really appreciated Jen hooking me up with a few tag swag items I had not seen before.

Laser Quest Whitby was awesome!

Then I made my way over to Laser Quest Richmond Hill. 

What most impressed me about this site was the scene I walked in to find in the lobby. While getting ready for their next game a young woman was leading a group in a dance contest in front of mission control. Everybody was loving it! It was obvious that this site was all about the fun, both inside and outside of the game. I bought one of the holiday themed gift cards from manager Saf (who also hooked me up with a printed LQ Arena tag so I would not have to use my phone data while over the border).

And then I went into the next game. This game was actually full of kids, so I did not want to play hard and spoil their fun. Instead I asked the staff member in the briefing room to snap a pic by the arena entrance because this one was so distinctive with a glowing tunnel leading you into the arena.

This sparked a discussion about my tag adventure and what led me to Laser Quest this weekend, so rather than actually try to play a serious game I spent most of the game time walking around in the arena and chatting with game master Natalie (who was also the one leading the dance contest out front!) and she told me that they are doing a lot more of those kind of lobby games because the parents really love them and they’ve gotten such great feedback. She noted that laser tag is so much better an activity for kids to engage in than sitting around playing video games at home and I absolutely agree with her. In the last 30 seconds of the game I took a few shots just so that I’d have a score on the screen and then I took a pic with Natalie who is a real asset to this center.

My final stop of the day was to Laser Quest Brampton.

I did not realize it at the time, but as it turns out I was there for one of the final games at this site. I went in to play a real game as the participants were far more evenly balanced this time. I’m so glad I made the decision to drive a little further out of my way so I can say that I played here. Brampton marked my 24th Laser Quest arena played and my fourth this weekend. I had an amazing time getting to experience so much Laser Quest while in Canada!

And I ended my weekend hanging out with “Team Toronto” (not a laser tag reference) at Insomnia before heading home with some great memories. This was also a great opportunity for a visit with friends. :)

Thank you Laser Quest!

Comments or Questions?

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Q-Zar Toledo

Let's talk about a really impressive arena...the new and tremendously improved Q-Zar Toledo!


I had previously played at this site in July of 2016. At that time Q-Zar Toledo looked completely different as you can see in this brief blog post with pictures taken when I was last there a couple of years ago...



However, since then it has been purchased, renovated and revitalized by Erik Guthrie who has certainly built it into a showpiece arena with his understanding of how the details make the difference between something average versus something really extraordinary. Amber and I went to play some Helios Pro and check things out. We were blown away by how much attention was paid to the whole look and vibe of this incredibly cool atmosphere from start to finish. Erik greeted us and took us for a tour of the site and I can tell you it is really one of the most distinctive laser tag sites I have seen.


When you walk in the first thing you will see is the front counter, which is now on the opposite side of the lobby from where it once was. Erik wanted this place look like a modern day Q-Zar, so there are a few deliberate nods to the original Q-Zar aesthetic from years past. The logo panel on the front of the counter glows and changes color and the metal truss frames the back wall.


Behind the counter (and in a few other places throughout the lobby) there are digital posters rotating on screens that promote the various things this location has to offer.


On the back wall a HUGE projection scoreboard is framed by coordinated lights.

Lights are probably the most prominent feature all throughout this entire location. In the lobby lights are used in a few really unique ways. There's a birthday party area where the lights and music are used to identify party groups, call them to games and help them to celebrate.


In this same area they can switch from normal white lights to a glow party with the touch of a button.


They will even subtly brighten back to full white house lighting to cue the end of the night.


And one of the coolest lighting effects (at least before actually entering the arena) is the briefing room entrance door which can call groups by color.


At present the briefing room has a space theme going on, but I'm betting you'll be seeing more cool lighting effects before too long. Meanwhile, the vesting area is already decked out with lit crystal-style panels to differentiate the different vest colors.


Keep your eyes open in this room for a subtle hint to which team is victorious even before getting to check the scoreboard. You might be able to tell which team gave a brighter performance! ;)


We were there for an all you can play night and there was a packed house of enthusiastic players. It's been awhile since I've played with a group that size and it was really a great experience. The staff did something special this night and offered a free game pass to anyone who took and posted a selfie on their social media to promote the site. Amber and I took our selfie together before going in to play the game.


OK, ready to check out the arena?

This entire arena was rebuilt (sparking an interesting discussion about what constitutes a "new arena" for the purposes of keeping count). It is completely different from the former arena that used to be right here and there are some really cool extras to be found throughout.


The walls are actually painted in pastel shades, but the lighting can make a dramatic difference.


Paying homage to the geometric look of the original Photon arenas you can see a familiar trapezoid shaped entry to each of the base structures.


Once inside you will notice a much flashier design surrounding the base.


And a few interesting things happened whenever a base was deactivated. First, there was more unique lighting effect built into the actual act of tagging the base...and it includes fog. Now, some places where I have played have had the fog spray down towards the player when the base is deactivated and I really HATE that, but here the fog sprays upwards and I have to say that actually enhances the moment very nicely!


Even those who are not right at the base will have no trouble recognizing what is happening when a player gets the base tag because of the lighting along each of the ramps. When there is no base activity it looks cool with rainbow lit trim (which is also a help to see where the incline of the ramp kicks in).


However, when a base is being deactivated you can tell by the way the lights change. You can see the changes in the lighting when the base is being tagged.


There are plenty of gates and targets and typical Zone features throughout the maze and inside structures.


But one more interesting feature that I don't often see is this game station console.


Although I didn't notice it actually being used in the's all good. I still maintain that trivia and tag don't go together in my mind. But it's cool to see the different gaming possibilities.

An in game scoreboard is something that's pretty unique also!

We played a few different game formats, but one that I particularly enjoyed was Domination. I've really enjoyed seeing what similarities and differences there are in how this game is played between systems (as I've played some form of Domination on 4-5 systems at this point). The game was very clearly explained in the briefing, however I suspect that some people just reverted to standard tag rather than focusing on maintaining control of the targets. However, I was successful with the objective and racked up a nice score playing as Napalm.


Something most people will never be aware of, but that is a HUGE game changer for an operator is these magnetic chargers. Think of the wear and tear these will save on the packs!

At the end of the night Erik was kind enough to let us check out the Helios 2 demo packs that he brought with him and try them out in the arena.


He pointed out some of the features of the new Helios 2 including the half inch laser beam, the sensor inside the front of the phaser that allows you to tag right down the barrel and how it can run on a Linux box so there is no need for Windows updates. It's very cool to learn about what's new as my whole trip was pretty much based around the launch of Helios 2 in arenas in the United States. It's more of a workhorse upgrade for the Helios CE, but Helios Pro still has more elite features, so both have a place depending on what a site owner would want their equipment to be able to do.


Amber and I did some "vesting room LOR" with the packs and then took them into the arena.


I greatly appreciate the tour of the site and all the information Erik was kind enough to share with us.


Q-Zar Toledo was his home tag site back in the day and I'm so glad to see that not only has he kept laser tag alive at this site, but that I got to see everything that will undoubtedly make it thrive here with all the amazing features that he has added to make this a really stunning site.


My weekend adventures between Michigan and Ohio had almost come to a close as we said our goodbyes and I headed for my hotel to get about three hours sleep before catching my flight home. But there was one final highlight left to happen.


While we were laser tagging in Q-Zar comedian Josh Blue had been performing elsewhere in Toledo that night. Although I didn't see the show, I did get a chance to meet him. As it turns out Josh Blue and I were both on the same plane the next morning and we met in the airport where he was very cool to take a selfie with me. Now that was the cherry on top of an amazing tag weekend and a great night out at Q-Zar Toledo!



Comments or Questions?


Websites: and

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Friends at Funagin's

One of the best parts of playing laser tag is that I have been able to develop friendships with people all over the country. It never ceases to amaze me that almost everywhere I go there is a tag friend somewhere in the nearby vicinity. Even as far away as California and Hawaii I have found friends through laser tag that I can reach out to whenever I'm traveling out their way.
After I left Michigan I headed south towards Toledo, which was close enough for Amber from the Ascendance team to make a trip from Indiana so we could play some tag together again. This was really so nice because we have not seen each other since our team played at Battle For The Fort in 2016. So we decided to meet up for some Laserforce Gen 7 at Funagin's in Sylvania, Ohio.

I have to say it's a good thing there was this highly visible sign by the road...

...because if not for that we probably would not have even realized that this was a laser tag site. There was no signage on the building which is unfortunate because perception is reality and my initial perception was "I hope this is it...and I hope they are not closed."

Once we entered the building we saw that they were doing some renovations, so I will cut them some slack if they were just keeping things low key while they are working on their updates. Upon entering the building we were directed to go through the green doorway to our left where we found the tag part of the business (apparently there is paintball available on the upper level) and they had a couple of parties in progress. Thankfully there was also an appropriate group of young adult players going in for a game right then so we were able to join their group.
We divided up into three small teams and Amber and I played together as a team of two. It had been awhile since she had played Laserforce, but I play frequently, so I suspected this would be fun.
The arena was HUGE, although sparsely decorated with a few wooden structures including a center bunker supporting a partial upper level. I'm not certain of the square footage, but this space has tremendous potential. With five bases scattered throughout there were ample targets. The floor plan had a lot of open space so it played very differently from an arena with a true maze structure. Actually, it felt a little too easy to target the other players because there was not as much use of cover.
The structures they had in place were hand painted, many with a splatter paint design. I actually kind of like this style (which goes right along with their paintball upstairs) because while it may not have the polished look you find in some arenas it is unique with a bit of a vintage tag feel.

The teams went into the arena and the game began. Amber and I definitely had the advantage with our experience. I felt from the get-go that we were going to easily take the top two spots, but more importantly we just had a good time with the game again. Most of the times that we have played together have been in tournament games so this was upbeat, light and fun...just the way it should be. The other players made a good showing as well and we left feeling like it was a good jump start for the rest of the evening. I'm very glad that Jesse recommended this site and that I got to add it as a last minute bonus stop on this trip. :)
Comments or Questions?
Websites: and