“Remembering Photon” as told by the players is the latest addition
to the Oral History of Laser Tag video series for the Laser Tag Museum and it was
particularly special to film this with other players in attendance at last year’s
Phocon 2019 in Laurel, MD.
I’d like to thank those players who took some time out between
games to share their memories with me for this project.
I’d also like to thank Marc Mueller and XP Lasersport of Laurel,
MD for hosting Phocon and for all he has done over the past several years to keep the
light of the original laser tag alive for so many. I would most certainly not
have started out on my own amazing laser tag journey or be in the place I am
today had it not been for stumbling upon the very first Phocon celebration in
As our world is in the middle of an incredibly difficult time and we
are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by encouraging people to stay at home
and socially distance from others, one facet of that response is that many
laser tag arenas have temporarily shut their doors. As a result, today is
International Laser Tag Day…only without laser tag for most of us.
Even if we are unable to play laser tag to celebrate today, I’d
like to suggest that an alternative for now is to read about laser tag instead.
I have found a few fictional book choices for you that (at last I checked) were easy to
find on either Amazon or eBay, so getting them delivered could be an
opportunity for you to stay at home and experience some laser tag vicariously
through the characters.
I’m currently in the middle of reading Laser Tag by Kevin
Flanders. Since I am not deep enough in to offer a proper review just yet I’ll
just invite you to read it along with me. What I can tell you is it’s a
thriller about a killer who returns to a New England town every few years and the
time has come for him to return for a deadly game of laser tag with a player
who got away from him the last time. I’m using this time off to catch up on my
reading and find out how this story ends!
For now, I’ll give you my impressions of four other laser tag
related books that I have read, all fiction and all very different from one another.
We Always Win at Laser Tag by Gary L. Norman is set in Virginia in
the mid-nineties. Having played some outdoor tactical laser tag myself in that very same
part of Virginia I wondered if the author had the same kind of experience and
whether that served as the inspiration for the story. This book definitely
assumes the players are doing some sort of outdoor tactical, not traditional
arena tag. It’s the story of a rag tag team of ego-driven players (who are
surprisingly the protagonists) trying to take down an unbeatable team that
seemingly came out of nowhere. Remembering that this story begins in 1995 is
very important as the technology that drives the turning point of the plot is
an artifact of the time. I’m not sure that younger people would completely
appreciate the technology of that time that becomes key to the story’s
resolution (what’s a CD?). And that’s actually fine because the book is laced
with a whole lot of unnecessarily harsh and incredibly politically incorrect
language in a somewhat misguided attempt to make the characters conversations
more believable, so for that reason I would not recommend this for younger
readers anyhow. Although, if not for the language and the need for
understanding a few references from that time, the essence of the story might
otherwise be more geared to a younger audience than the one that actually lived
through that era, so I suppose it is a matter of perspective.
However, if you are looking for something that really IS intended
for a younger reader, how about Tag, You’re It – Laser Tag, which was actually
written by a kid. The author is a nine-year old boy named Connor Benjamin
Littlejohn. This is a juvenile fiction selection perfect for elementary school aged kids who are
certainly home from school for a couple more weeks. This is written for
children by a child so it is a completely different selection and I admire this
young man for being able to publish three books (yes, this is the third in his
tag series) at such a young age!
Laser Quest is a graphic novel written by Mick Gowar and
illustrated by Peter Dennis. This one was published overseas in the late nineties
so it may be a little less readily available, although there were a fair number
of copies listed on eBay at last check. This book is a little bit of a mystery
to me as it VERY clearly depicts Laser Quest equipment, however there is
nothing else I see that would indicate to me that it is in any way connected
with the Laser Quest brand. The book has a fairly simple mystery plot about a
girl who doesn’t really want to be at her kid brother’s laser tag birthday
party and especially doesn’t once she realizes that someone is playing with
real lasers. Because this was published in London I invite any of my overseas
Quest friends to chime in if you know anything about the origins of this book.
But regardless, it’s a cute read with some nice graphic depictions of the game.
The last book I want to share is Arena by Holly Jennings and this was
definitely my favorite, although technically it isn’t really about laser tag.
To be frank, there is no actual laser tag in the book (it’s about a VR gamer
simulation) , BUT it describes competition in an arena that I could definitely
relate to and if in your mind you substitute the occasional “virtual weapon”
with a phaser, then it reads like the PERFECT laser tag book…that just happens
to not include any laser tag (irony noted). This is an awesome read for any
gamer, but especially a female gamer. It follows a team working their way
through an elite league tournament with interest on a global scale. The
protagonist is the first female captain in the history of the tournament and
faces relatable challenges and obstacles as the team advances. This book was
gripping and had me from page one. Seriously, get yourself a copy of this book.
There is also a sequel called Gauntlet that I am looking forward to reading as
So, there are a few choices for your reading enjoyment as we all
get through this challenging time doing the distancing that is needed to keep
us safe and healthy. I would welcome knowing if anyone else has some laser tag book suggestions to offer. This is quite different from how I expected to be spending
International Laser Tag Day. My original plan was that I intended to play some
Laser Storm at an arena in New Jersey. I’ll still get there sometime in the
future. Why Laser Storm? Because this year’s Laser Tag Day poster celebrates
the 30th anniversary of this iconic system and that seemed at the
time to be the most appropriate way to celebrate!
However, to offer something to look forward to in the meantime,
I’ll tell you now that very soon I will be sharing my interview with the
co-founder and former CEO of Laser Storm, Bob Cooney. I hope that can be a way
that we can still remember Laser Storm’s history and celebrate International
Laser Tag Day, just a little bit later than usual this year.
By the end of a busy day in and around Las Vegas I was ready to
settle in for an all you can play night and Battle Blast in Las Vegas looked like
it would be the perfect site.
I called ahead and Jack told me about their AYCP from 8:00-midnight,
but I got there a little early so I took some time to take a tour of a really
cool 5800 square foot arena where I would get to play Zone Nexus for the
remainder of the evening. This arena features a battle-ravaged apocalyptic look
that extends through multiple themed rooms on two levels making for space where
you can really get caught up in the game.
On the lower level you can shoot around the bookshelves in the
library (just like an experience I actually had in a real library not too long
Or go across to destroy the base on the ceiling of the museum
And exploring the interesting décor in each of the rooms is part of
what makes the arena a key part of having a really immersive game experience.
There are ramps on each side to provide access to the top level.
And once you are up there a catwalk that gets you from one room to
the next with ample walls and barriers to hide behind as well as lots of
targets scattered throughout the entire arena.
When you’re in the upper level museum room you can see across into the window above the library, but you are also at eye level
with the observation deck across the way. At one point in a game I was hanging
out by one windowed opening in the arena and chatting with a couple of the
people watching the game! :)
Now, since I was there early and the AYCP had not yet started they
invited me to get a jump on some games with one of their party groups. It was a
young girl’s birthday and she was having a blast with a few of her friends…meanwhile
I found it funny to watch how the kids’ fathers were taking things REALLY seriously
in there and playing harder than the kids!
In between games Jay showed me their separation of vests for
sanitization and I appreciated seeing this place taking the cleanliness of
their equipment. Before too long their AYCP crowd had arrived and there was a
solid group of young guys in their teens and twenties ready to play hard. Now
THIS was the kind of laser tag night I was really looking forward to!
Those guys were obviously regulars here and they gave me some
great competition…and I believe I surprised them by bringing some of my own A game
as well. Tag is nothing without great competitors to play against and those
guys on blue were keeping the quality of the games excellent the whole night.
Well, except for that one round when the game master called the next round and
I jumped up still full of energy while they sat back to catch their breath. :)
But otherwise, all the games were really a lot of fun. I was leading the night with
the high score each game right until the end when one of those guys knocked me
out of the top spot, so shout out to the one playing as Pacman…kudos and respect!
After that game I decided to call it a night and get some rest. I had plans to
visit with my friend Britany the next day, but an unexpected change in plans resulted
in me catching a flight to Phoenix instead. So I’m glad that if I only got to
spend one night in Las Vegas that I spent it playing hard and having a great
time at Battle Blast Laser Tag. You better believe the next time I’m in Vegas I’ll
be back…and I’ll be bringing Britany with me!
When you are the Mother of Dragons (ok, a little leopard gecko,
but he still counts) the idea of walking into a castle guarded by a dragon
holds even more appeal…especially when there’s laser tag inside!
At Lost Worlds Myth and Magic Family Fun Center in Henderson, NV you
really get that castle experience from the moment you walk in the door all the
way through the site, right up to the entrance to the Wizard’s Dungeon.
This site is affiliated with the Lost Worlds centers in Livermore
(with a dinosaur theme, which I have been to) and San Jose, but I must say this
site was really distinctive and set itself apart. They really play up their
theme so I looked forward to seeing whether this extended all the way into the
laser tag arena. From the way the manager Sean talked it up I was certain this
arena would be something special and indeed it was…and full of dragons!
There was a raised platform in the center with an impressive four
post castle-like structure that makes you feel like you’re in the middle of a
medieval movie set.
And the base housings are like forts.
When a site opts for a them, especially a fairly theatrical theme,
I love to see it carried out all the way through. This site did not disappoint.
Ideal for little ones and big kids alike, there is really something kind of
magical about the atmosphere here. And you might even make a new friend of two!
If you happen to be there on the weekend I understand there is
even more myth and magic to be enjoyed. I had a wonderful time and this castle
themed site definitely made me feel like royalty. :)
When I walked into Flip N Out Xtreme of Summerlin, NV and was told
that they have an arena seven levels high I really didn’t believe it. Seven
levels? Well, that in fact was the case with this really unique arena that you
really have to see to believe.
So here’s a short tour of the arena with a design that I am told
can be credited to Bryan Severence. It’s unlike almost anything else out there. The theme is Warehouse Wars.
You can even play out on a balcony extension that overlooks the other
attractions they offer.
This site plays Delta Strike so I put on my pack and joined a game
that was packed with teen players.
I am told this site caters more towards the teens while their
other location in Henderson, NV has a younger crowd, but to be honest I think
that both sites look like they would have similar appeal. I got to see and
compare for myself once I got to Henderson.
I didn’t count the levels here, but the arena seemed to be just as
large as Summerlin’s with a similar aesthetic that appears a bit more polished
because of the paint job.
My favorite part of this site was the catwalk across the top.
Now, both of these sites are very different from most arenas because
of one key feature…stairs.
I have never been a big fan of stairs when I see
them in a laser tag arena. However, I will say that I did not see anyone
running and they do make you a little more careful about where you are stepping.
I think that changes the game play a bit, but I enjoyed my experience and I
suspect that an arena design like this would not be possible with ramps because
the angle of a staircase is so different. I really enjoyed playing at both Flip
N Out Xtreme locations and this was a great way to kick off my visit to Las
Taking a break from sharing the tales of my trip, here’s something tag related for fans of one of my favorite television shows. I won’t be going in to my
office for the time being (doing fine, just working from home), so instead I’ll
reminisce and celebrate today being the 15th anniversary of another Office.
Sounds like Bob Vance has got a place to host some laser tag when this is all
Sometimes laser tag can be more than just a
great game for players of all ages to enjoy. It can also be a means to make a
difference and benefit a really worthwhile cause. Kids Chance of Arkansas recently
hosted a bowling/laser tag tournament fundraiser at Fast Lane Entertainment in
Lowell, AR where supporters gathered for a night of food, fun and competition
and utilized the appeal of both laser tag and bowling to raise a nice sum to
benefit their educational scholarships.
Since 2001 Kids Chance of Arkansas has had the
mission of providing scholarships to the dependents of deceased and permanently
totally disabled workers from compensable Arkansas workers compensation claims.
I recognize that scholarships can make a tremendous difference in a young
person’s life, so I was very excited to be able to support this excellent cause
while also enjoying a great night of laser tag.
The event participants enjoyed some social
time with delicious food and drinks at the beginning of the night as the bowling
tournament got underway on lanes sponsored by several generous corporate
supporters. There were some really fun and creative awards presented to keep
the competition lighthearted and entertaining.
Since I know nothing about bowling, I took some
time to warm up with a few practice laser tag games and get familiar with the
arena prior to the laser tag tournament getting underway. I had been adopted
onto Team Genex and thought I’d take a tour of the arena and make a video to
share a few tips with my teammates.
Everyone gathered in the vesting room and put
on the Gen 8 Laserforce packs.
Although the event had several sponsored teams
signed up with full rosters, the dropping of some players necessitated changing
the tournament from a team event to a solo competition. However, that was fine
because everyone who played was still looking forward to getting into the arena
and having a great time. And we learned a little bit about attire in the arena…
Fast Lanes has a really impressive arena. It’s
huge! I’ll call it two levels, although there is a case to be made for saying
there is a mid-level as well. This space has an urban warfare theme and
includes three bases and two beacons, but the most notable targets are
definitely the helicopter and skeleton riding a tank that you can tag, but they
can tag you as well.
We played some solo competition and then did
randomized teams just for fun while the results were determined. There were
some equally fun and creative awards prepared for the laser tag tournament.
I was awarded the Hot Shot award for earning the top score of the night tagging on behalf of Genex Services. Randy Hulin of One
Call won the Sharp Shooter award for high accuracy and Laura Cruce of ArcBest took
home the Sitting Duck award.
By the end of the evening the event had successfully
raised over $4000 in support of educational scholarships and everyone had a
It was great to meet some wonderful people
like Kim and the players from Genex who were so welcoming to me. I’d also like
to thank Melisa Yopp and all the volunteers who helped make this event such a
success. I had such a terrific time and was so pleased to be a part of an event
where laser tag could be a part of helping to make a positive difference to the
future recipients of these Kids Chance of Arkansas scholarships. To learn more
about Kids Chance of Arkansas visit www.kidschancear.org.