Saturday, October 31, 2020

Halloween Achievement...Or Not

Time to earn the Laserforce Halloween achievement! Or, so I thought.

So I headed out for a few games, donning my cat mask as my costume, and ready to earn earn a little digital badge on my membership card for playing on Halloween. However, you’ll notice that this is not it...


This kitty is giving side eye because in spite of best intentions I could not make this happen today.


The trouble is that I learned once I got there that THIS is the actual achievement, which would require me to be playing at midnight just as the clock crosses over to the next day...ha!


With the current limited hours of operation this was just not going to be possible for me tonight. Honestly, this does not really matter to me all that much, however I figured I’d try for it anyhow since it is a rare one to obtain and it IS Halloween. 


So, I ended up getting an altogether different achievement to add to a collection which I was barely even aware I had racked up.


And even though it’s a smaller personal achievement than the 5Ks I’ve been doing the last few weeks, I did laser tag over a mile during the four games I played today.


Well, it was still a good time. And achievements were secondary to wishing the Fun Warehouse a happy 12th anniversary in business as I am told they actually opened right on Halloween. Congratulations!


I’m delighted that this laser tag location was able to reopen, as this is a FAR more impressive achievement (there really should be a digital badge for THIS). These days we really can’t take anything for granted with local businesses, so let me take a moment to remind you that local laser tag arenas (and all small businesses) need their customers and members now more than ever. If they are able to be open, I encourage you show them your support. Of course, play safely (wear a mask, wash your hands and keep your social distance), but please know that your patronage is important so that local arenas can continue to offer laser tag games in the future. Congrats to FWH for being part of the central New York community for 12 years!


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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

OMG...Zone V3!

I have made some wonderful friends through laser tag and I’m delighted that, with the world being so well connected through technology, I can occasionally even make tag friends on different continents. One such wonderful soul in Australia was recently kind enough to connect me with a couple of Zone V3 packs for my personal collection for which I am deeply moved and appreciative! A parcel arrived at my house yesterday containing these amazing pieces of Zone history!

These packs are significant to me because they represent a very early stage in the history of one of my favorite brands. In a way, it’s similar to the appreciation I have for Photon in that, even though this version was retired over a decade before and about five tech generations ahead of the first laser tag I ever touched (which, incidentally, was Zone Infusion), it feels very familiar. And I believe that if you love the game and the gear that evolved from it, then it’s important to appreciate and honor where it all started.

For a historical reference, you can see the timeline of Zone development over time listed here on the Laser Tag Museum website.

These packs harken back to the early days of Zone’s history and I’m intrigued by some of the subtle differences between them (for example, the shoulder plastics are different).

Another knowledgeable friend speculated that one of the phasers which contains tri-color lights may actually be a V4 phaser, though the solid yellow color phaser and two solid color packs are unquestionably the earlier generation. However, this makes me wonder if the difference in shoulder plastics might similarly be attributed to using some V4 plastic design? I’m not certain, just hypothesizing about that. 

I was also excited to find that there were some extra “tag swag” goodies included from a few Australian tag sites as well.


There were two items I found particularly intriguing...

Thank you, my friend, for so generously sending these packs and goodies across the ocean to be treasured as part of my collection. Someday, when we are able to tag and travel once again, I hope to visit Australia and maybe we can play some laser tag with the latest version. But for right now, I hope you know how appreciative I am to be able to enjoy these artifacts of the game that we both enjoy so much!


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Saturday, October 24, 2020

Beam Me Up...Tag It Up

This week I took on the Badass Running Company’s “Beam Me Up 5K” virtual charity race as a laser tag challenge with my participation helping to support Feeding America to provide 40 meals for those in need. This is my third 5K challenge this month that I have completed in a laser tag arena instead of as a traditional run/walk and I love that these challenges are giving me a renewed purpose for going out to tag while also inspiring me with ways that I can make a difference as well (stay tuned).

Since last weekend I focused on the central NY arenas, I decided this week to head east, back to Apex Entertainment in Albany.

This arena is part of an FEC in a mall, so I took a seat and waited for other players to show up. Fortunately there was enough foot traffic that I was able to play pretty consistently with various groups throughout the day.

The first group of the day was made up of some young adult players who were there to celebrate their friend’s birthday. Happy birthday shout out to Kayla! It was a rocky start when one girl smacked into a wall, sagely noting afterwards “I guess this is why they say don’t run!” However, we restarted and even just the appropriate brisk walking got my distance goal started off strongly and my heart rate up. Laser tag is even better exercise when I’m paying attention to things like that. And with a novice group I just did this game for accuracy and to help Kayla find all the bases to get her a better birthday score.

Next game there was a bigger group and over the course of the afternoon there was a nice mix of games of varying sizes.

I haven’t had a favorite pack anywhere in quite awhile, but I think I’ve decided that this one just feels like “my pack”. ;)

My distances per game (in miles) were as follows:
.04 (that was the game that got restarted)
.25 (this game...less steps, but WAY more intense playing with some guys who came ready to play hard and even tagged Amira into the game! I played properly this time just to prove that Andrew wasn’t exaggerating when he told his co-workers that I could pull 98% accuracy)
.47 (the night was coming to an end soon so I really stepped up my pace that game)

Total 3.11 miles

So to achieve 3.1 miles = 5K in an afternoon is a completely manageable goal and can be achieved even faster depending on the intensity of the game (or the focus on the goal).

When the day was done I felt the satisfaction of having gotten out to enjoy a few games of tag while knowing that part of my registration for the “Beam Me Up” challenge benefits a really worthwhile cause. How appropriate to achieve it using laser "beams", right? And since laser taggers love their hardware, it’s cool that many of these virtual challenges hook you up with some kind of achievement swag for completing the goal, like this glow in the dark medal.

Hmmm....laser tag...a donation for a great cause...while earning an achievement medal....

Anyone want to guess how those things might all tie together during the month of November? Well, as I said in the beginning...stay tuned!


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Sunday, October 18, 2020

Whatever It Takes: Tagging in Honor of Doreen

If it weren’t for the pandemic, I was supposed to have been in Denver this past weekend laser tagging in support of the Doreen Katz Memorial Cancer Foundation. Since that couldn’t happen, I decided to support anyway and tag another 5K locally in honor of Doreen. I did it as a progressive 5K, doing a mile (roughly four games) in each of three local arenas so I could still end the day having tagged for this great cause.

Remembering back to when I was leaving LQ Phoenix after the last DKMCF fundraiser on the night of March 15th (heading home right as things were beginning to lock down throughout the United States), I had no idea how the world was about to change. One of the last things I said to Adam Katz that night was that I would be there on October 17th in Denver. I had to settle for figuring out another way to support and be creative in doing so…whatever it takes. So that’s why I decided it would be fitting to donate the amount that I would have paid for my registration, even though the event could not take place at all because the host arena in Colorado is still temporarily closed. I have great empathy for those businesses throughout the country that have still not been able to re-open, but I also am greatly appreciative that several of the laser tag arenas I enjoy playing in New York have just recently re-opened, so I figured this would also be a way for me to show some support to those businesses, both by being a customer and by showcasing a few of the places where laser tag is currently available in central New York.

My day began with a visit to Apex Entertainment in Syracuse and their New York City themed arena inside of Destiny USA. This location re-opened about a week and a half ago, so a return visit was well overdue. I arrived in the early afternoon and was pleased to find that there were groups ready for tag from the time I arrived through the end of my final game and I was able to get in some quality games to start the day.

The first game I considered a warm up and according to my new Fitbit (I did decide to invest in a better tracker and it was well worth it for the improved accuracy and app info) I tagged for .19 of a mile that game. Off and running! However, the second game I forgot to turn the tracker on until midway through the game, so once I remembered it only calculated .16 of a mile. That’s a mistake I won’t make twice, lol. I figured I would just have to make up for it by working harder in the next game, when I was able to tag with a nice size group. Half my attention was on the game, while the other half was on making up for lost steps by circling the arena more than usual and making a deliberate point of going up and down the ramps repeatedly. Apex Syracuse has some serious ramps leading to the half-arena upper level.

The upper level is almost like a balcony with quite a view.

That third game I really earned the .35 of a mile (and I could feel it!) and then I finished another round of “fitness on the ramps” at .36 in a solo format game, so in four games at Apex I got my first mile completed and was already feeling the burn with two arenas left to go!

Next up was a visit to The Fun Warehouse. The groups that were playing there were young beginners, so I was not about to play hard. The last thing I wanted was for anyone to get discouraged because FWH also just re-opened last week and since tag is still a little slow, I want to make sure everyone has a good time (and sticks around) so we can all get some games in. So, to adjust my game play accordingly I just played for accuracy, mostly focusing on the rotating targets, and instead of playing a proper game I mostly just walked through the maze at a brisk pace, feeling a little like Pac Man (or is it the ghosts?) by just tracing a path and only tagging those who happened to cross into my path. This allowed everyone to have a good time AND got me to the second mile goal a lot faster than I expected.

Then it was off to my final arena, Tag 607 in Cortland. This is a smaller arena geared more towards kids, but they use Cybertag equipment which is REALLY unusual and I had only played at this site once before. I was looking forward to tagging with this gear once again because it is such a novelty, so I thought this would be a great place to finish out the night.

I took the top spot as we started a series of games.

It took four games to complete the third mile and change, during which time I realized that I can either tag well by focusing on the game or take a lot of steps while not paying as much attention, but it is very difficult to do both at the same time! Walt’s kids got to hear about my goal and learn a bit about tracking distance and I told one of the kids who tagged all the games with me that they could tell the kids at school that they tagged a mile this weekend…bragging rights for everyone, lol!

I wore my Gameworks t-shirt to represent where I had previously planned to be this weekend, but as my plans actually changed multiple times because of travel restrictions I have to believe I was right where I was supposed to be.

And I was pleased to complete the 5K in honor of Doreen while still finding a way to support the Doreen Katz Memorial Cancer Foundation…whatever it takes.


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