I am a creature of habit. Although I have played various laser tag arenas in my travels, my scope of experience has largely been based on playing at one favorite arena reasonably close to my home. I had played in a handful of arenas that I found within a fifty mile radius courtesy of an excellent resource, wheretoplaylasertag.com, and felt I had explored these places well enough to decide that the place where I play regularly offered the best experience out of the options I knew about. However, there are so many systems and game options in the world of laser tag that I thought it would be cool to seek out some other centers with the intention of making day trips to places a little further away, so I expanded my search to a one hundred mile radius. To my pleased astonishment, there was a laser tag center merely seven miles from where I typically play and it had not yet been on my radar simply because it was just a hair beyond the fifty mile radius I had specified in my original search. Better still, due to the school holiday break they were offering special hours and all day play options today, so Paul and I took off to explore a new (to us) place to play some laser tag.
We arrived and were among only a handful of players there right at the start of the day, though it was obvious that the others there had experience and wanted to get the most out of the special hours too. This center used the Laserforce system (I am more familiar with playing Zone using Rift Blaster phasers), so the game was a little different and the arena was unfamiliar. However, after one game (and yes, one victory) I was hooked. This was an exceptional playing experience and I wanted more...and more I got. I immediately signed up for a membership there and got the one thing that I missed so much at the other arena...they have a code name system where you can pick your player alias and track your game statistics. TIVIA IS BACK!!! And I could tell that this was going to be my new go-to arena.
Before this gets confusing, let's call my Zone arena "center one" and this new Laserforce arena "center two" since I plan to play regularly at both and don't want to name names.
Years ago I had played at "center one" when they had a similar code name/progress tracking system and I loved it. That's where my online handle originated (as my player name) and the thing that caused me the greatest disappointment upon my return to laser tag was learning that they had updated to a system where they no longer allowed the option of using a code name. So I can't over-emphasize how much I loved seeing my old player name back in force with the addition of my membership at "center two". I know in the grand scheme of things it's a minor point, but lots of laser tag arenas do offer the code name option and it really does make me feel like I'm playing "for the honor of the name". OK, that's my cornball moment of the day. :-)
As more people started to filter in throughout the afternoon I enjoyed the fresh rounds of competition and played every game over the course of five hours. All I wanted from each round was to see the name Tivia at the top of the displayed rankings. It was more than my usual desire to play well...this was for old times sake. And I was particularly pleased that for most of those games I was playing on all cylinders and achieved my goal...
Yes, although I was playing on a different system in a different arena, this place and these game matches made me feel like the old days when I first started playing laser tag. And after chatting with the staff member behind the counter about differences in systems, upgrades in equipment, even this year's multi-system Armageddon tournament (so nice to be able to geek out about such things) I learned why it felt like the old days...apparently many of the staff members and a (former?) owner (hope I got those details right, apologies if I didn't) were all regulars at my old haunt, "center one" back in the day right around the time I had first started playing there MANY years ago!
It was great to experience several styles of game play (as generally "center one" sticks to one basic game format) and today I played several standard games along with super charge and individual challenge rounds. One of my favorite matches of the day was the final game where we played individual supercharge. Although I generally favor team play, I liked this because rather than playing on teams it was every man (or woman) for themselves and you got a steady reinforcement of how you were doing based on the color your pack turned throughout the game. If you were in the lead position your pack would turn red, second place was yellow, third place green, etc. and so it was obvious how well you were doing each step of the way. Once my pack turned red I was determined not to let the lead slip away and I ended the five hours of laser tag play on a high note...
In addition to the variety of games played today, a kind staffer shared details about the myriad of other game play options available with the Laserforce system. I appreciated how the staff here, Mike in particular, really knew about laser tag and how he was so full of information about upcoming events and tournaments. While "center one" will always hold a special place in my heart and is a place I will continue to frequent, I can tell that "center two" is the place I need to be for upping my game and raising the bar. I can't believe it was so close this whole time and I never stumbled upon it before!
Now it is obvious that continuing to explore more options and laser tag experiences is exactly what I need to do to keep my love of the sport growing, for even though I may have a preference towards one style or another, you just never know what you might find seven miles down the road.
FYI, if you have questions or comments for me I invite you to visit my website at www.tiviachickloveslasertag.com or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.