Friday, July 31, 2020

The Laser Tag Audio Drama Continues

I hope you enjoy the latest installment of the Chicagoland Grand Scrim laser tag audio drama! If you can’t actually play laser tag right now you can at least live some tournament adventures vicariously by listening to episode three of this mock sports radio broadcast.

Comments or Questions?

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Remembering an Innovator

This week the laser tag industry said goodbye to one of its true innovators with the passing of Mr. Jeff Schilling, founder of Creative Works.

I never actually had the chance to meet this man in person, but his work left an indelible mark on my life. I would say at least 60% (and that percentage is probably even higher) of the laser tag locations where I have played over the years have included the arena designs of Creative Works. Any time I have made a reference in this blog to “those walls” I have been referring to the familiar aesthetic of the design work of Jeff Schilling’s company that is responsible for brightening the interiors of laser tag arenas all over the world, including my home site in Syracuse where we can’t wait to get back to playing around those very walls.

One thing I learned just yesterday is that Jeff Schilling was the recipient of a very special honor from the Laser Tag Museum. Last month he became the third person ever to receive the Industry Innovator Award. To give you an idea of the company he keeps with this award, the only two other gentlemen to receive it are George Carter III and Martin Shoebridge, so this really was a very fitting honor and I am heartened to know that it happened when it did.

So, it is with respect and appreciation for all his work I want to take a moment to say thank you to Mr. Jeff Schilling and express my condolences to his family and friends. He was indeed an innovator for the laser tag industry and will be remembered.

Comments or Questions?

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Limited Edition Lazer Tag Inspired Pins

I do love a limited edition, so you can imagine how excited I was to find these limited edition Lazer Tag inspired Lazer Blaster enamel pins designed by an artist whose work I recently discovered on Etsy.

These pins are the creation of a very talented artist named Nathan Anderson and if you are a fan of all things from 80’s pop culture (as I am) his work will likely resonate with you. You will also recognize that in this context I am spelling “Lazer” with a Z because this is specifically harkening back to the Worlds of Wonder Lazer Tag brand from 1986. I asked the the artist to tell me about what inspired him to create these pins.

“I love the vintage Lazer Tag so much, still a futuristic and sleek design. It was one of my all time favorite toy guns growing up. I love that it has found a foothold in pop culture of today, being featured in Ready Player One, etc. This is a pin I’ve always wanted, so I made it (and had to make the Ultimate Edition alt white colorway). I'm hoping to make more pins in the Lazer Tag world in the future. Thanks for your interest and enjoy the pins!” - Nathan Anderson of

There are two versions available. One design is based off the black StarLyte pistol phaser that was widely available and marketed to the public. The other is an alternate version based off the white manufacturer’s sample StarLyte pistol phaser of which there were only about 20 ever made and reportedly only six known to remain in existence (one of which I’ve been lucky enough to see up close at the Laser Tag Museum).

Ok, taking a moment now for some Lazer Tag history. Although the white StarLyte pistol is the rarity and the black model made it to the mass market, the colors were reversed for the StarLyte Pro Rifle model. This version was sold in white, but there was rumored to be a prototype model made in black. Yep, it exists! And it is also in the care of the Laser Tag Museum.

When my pins arrived, my immediate thought was that one could be turned into a pendant to replace my “Tivia” necklace that I lost on my last laser tag trip somewhere around New Orleans. I thought I’d put the pin next to the black StarLyte phaser that is part of my own collection courtesy of Gord Armstrong of Laser Storm (thanks again Gord!) so you can see how accurately the pin represents the actual article.

And you’ll note that I am also wearing the one converted to be a pendant, which I am certain will be a real conversation piece! 

This is a special item to have and perhaps with its limited production it could be considered something of a laser tag collectible as well.

You can see more of Nathan Anderson’s artwork at and if you are looking for a modern day Lazer Tag collectible these pins certainly hit the target!

Comments or Questions?

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Sunshine, Fresh Air and Laser Tag

What could be better than soaking up some sunshine and fresh air outside on a beautiful day? How about adding some outdoor laser tag! That was how this group and I spent an afternoon out at Peterpaul Recreation Park in Rome, NY. 

This place is a summer tradition in the town where I grew up. It has been part of the community for over 40 years. Although I must admit the last time I had been here myself was when I was still in high school watching my boyfriend being “so cool” hitting (and missing) pitches in the batting cages. But a LOT has changed since then, including the owners. Last year the business was taken over by Sean and Tammy Arnold and their family. This outdoor fun park was already known for bumper boats, go karts and those very same batting cages, but this year they decided to add Battle Company laser tag to their line-up of summertime amusements.

They were able to facilitate a mid-day game that I was able to join with a group of players ready to try out the new laser tag gear and we had about ten people enjoying some tag on a gorgeous afternoon. Everyone wore masks, but we also kept a very appropriate distance apart during the game since the outdoor field had plenty of room to spread out and move around.

Sean Jr. gave an equipment briefing and explained the first game format before passing out the gear. They are using the Battle Rifle Pro model here.

This is a vestless system using only a phaser and headband with sensors and each player kept the same set for the duration of all the games in our session.

He told me the gear is sanitized in between groups/sessions. My headband fit easily around my hat.

Each team began behind a fence at their designated respawn/base station.

Our first game was Deathmatch. It has been awhile since I last played using this system, so I had forgotten that you have to get several tags in before you deactivate a player, so at first I questioned why more of my shots didn’t seem to be landing. Then I started to realize that in fact they were hitting the mark, but it is a little more difficult to see in the sunlight, so it was just tougher to tell what was connecting until a complete deactivation occurred. For the Deathmatch game I was the MVP, meaning I was the highest scoring player, however another player actually had the most deactivations (aka “kills” in tactical, but that’s just a matter of semantics).

The next game was King of the Hill. Lots of systems have variations on this, but I had never before experienced Battle Company’s version of this game. Essentially the goal is for your team to “hold the hill” for as long as possible. In this case the hill was the round black platform in the middle with a Ubox on top that served as the hill sensor.

When you are near enough to the sensor it emits a sound (almost reminiscent of a digital piggy bank) every few seconds to reward you for the accumulating amount of time that you have been able to hold the position without being deactivated yourself. Of course, you are a wide open target when you are near the hill.

I played this one pretty brazenly, heading straight for the hill and fending off opponents with a firing sequence where I’d focus on tagging one player, shift to another, then immediately cycle back to the first to deactivate. This back and forth strategy worked well. I held my position there longest. I was deactivated once or possibly twice, and had to return to base to respawn, but those interruptions didn’t outweigh the amount of time (and points) I was able to accumulate while holding my position.

After having scored the most points (256) during King of the Hill, I was asked to be “it” during a game of Infection. Now, this is a game format that is popular across many systems, but it goes by a myriad of names and I made the suggestion that for the time being they might consider calling the game “Vampires” instead. It’s exactly the same person is “it” and as that person tags other players they are converted to the other team. This is another instance where it’s just about the semantics. The game itself is a good option, although I personally prefer the other two formats.

The final game was Boss Hunt, which is essentially Infection in reverse where everyone is targeting one player who is “it”. These to me are more novelty games, meaning they are not the main format I would look to play regularly, but they are enjoyable as an occasional change of pace. Deathmatch and King of the Hill were definitely the games I enjoyed the most.

This was such a nice way to spend an afternoon. I had arranged my day to be able to join in with a scheduled group (as sessions are booked in advance online) and I’m so glad I did. This was absolutely the best part of my week! I look forward to the next opportunity I have to play some tactical laser tag out in the fresh air at Peterpaul Recreation Park.

Comments or Questions?

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Cybertag Me!

I recently had an opportunity to play a few private games of Cybertag with the owner and family of Tag Me 607 in Cortland, NY and it was such a great time!

First, let me say that I am in favor of wearing masks because I would rather be a little more cautious, regardless of what anyone else requires. Walt (the owner) told me he encourages masks and he also wore one the entire time I was there. So I decided to just work with the look and take it a bit further with a headband to turn it into a Photon throwback...

Tivia: Social distancing and tagging from behind a mask since 1986. Just a little ironic humor for those who recognize the origin of my code name. :) Shout out to the original Tivia, Loretta Heywood.

Tag Me 607 is a small facility with capacity for ten vests, but it is sized just right for kids. It features an eighties theme and a bit of their own throwback style in the decor, from Mario on the walls to Ms. Pac-Man and Tetris pieces inside the neon painted arena.

Before we started, Walt showed me the gear. This was my very first time getting to play using Cybertag, so I took some time to examine the vest and phaser.

The phaser has some simple indicators on the digital screen including one that represents the hand sensor. You must hold these phasers with two hands as one must be on the vertical front handle and one on the trigger.

So, let’s talk Cybertag. The equipment itself was the main reason I wanted to visit this site. Cybertag is the indoor system manufactured by LASERWAR out of Russia and I was intrigued because I have never before seen this in use at any other location I have visited up until now. To me it was quite a novelty to find it “out in the wild.” Actually, I had been given heads up about this site back in November, so it was on my radar specifically because I wanted to try out the gear. Let me say, I am now a fan!

I asked Walt how he decided to select this brand for his business. He told me the price point was a factor, but also that he had done some research on other operators in the U.S. who have used it and he got a positive impression. I must say, for this being on the lower end of the tag equipment price spectrum I was quite impressed with Cybertag. It may not have some of the fancier bells and whistles, but it played well and felt accurate and easily intuitive to learn the sounds and indicators during the game.

Walt and I did a 1v1 game so he set the system for free-for-all. Although it can run a variety of games, he opts to keep things simple for now with free-for-all or team games. For this game we both wore vests with green lights, although it didn’t take long to learn that the player in the lead at any moment will have their vest turn white. In a 1v1 that doesn’t make you any more of a target, but it is good info to have and with more players it will let you know who to focus your attention on the most.

The vest vibrates to let you know when you are tagged. You can be tagged a number of times before you hear the words “all lives depleted” accompanied by the lights on the vest turning purple for several seconds. At the end of that time you hear “lives regenerated” and are right back in it.

The packs have a steady red beam and you can see the shot most clearly when aimed against a wall.

There’s a generous radius for hitting the target. Per my usual M.O. when just playing to have fun I sprayed with the trigger and didn’t worry at all about my accuracy. However, if I were looking to challenge myself I could make an effort to improve that, as the final results do track your accuracy.

I won this round...good game Walt!

This next thought is more of a constructive critique for the manufacturer of the equipment. As I look at the screen I notice something that may be in part attributed to cultural differences (I speculate) as the equipment is from a Russian manufacturer whose emphasis is more in tactical. You will notice that while the scoreboard reflects “shots” and “hits” (which are common stats to see here in the U.S.) there are also columns titled “death” and “murder”. I think this probably boils down to a language interpretation, but most systems I’ve played favor less intense sounding terminology, such as “deactivated” and “tagged” or “zapped”. I think it is always important to reinforce that there is nothing violent about this game at all. Perhaps the manufacturer might consider using different terminology more in line with the fun elements of the game in future versions. However, I also suspect that I’m the first person to play here and even think twice about the semantics of the wording because all most people care about is the final score.

For team games we played green vs blue as Walt’s kids joined us (also wearing masks) and I found it interesting to note that the kids had no trouble at all keeping an appropriate distance from anyone else.  Very good to see!

I also appreciated seeing that each pack was disinfected immediately after use, even though I kept mine on and personally only touched one vest and phaser the whole time.

I want to thank Walt of Tag Me 607 for an excellent experience. I appreciate having had an opportunity to try out Cybertag for myself and I definitely hope to return again!

Comments or Questions?