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Faking Photon

Yesterday I was offered an opportunity to play a Photon emulation game and I couldn't pass that up! :) During the first hour at the laser tag arena there were a handful of players there and they played a couple of rounds before disappearing. They were some older teenagers who had clearly come as a group and they were traveling as a pack. Then they disappeared all together for a short time, leaving Paul and I the only ones there for a brief window before things got busy and more players arrived. I had been chatting with Mike, the staff member behind the counter, about my trip earlier this year to play some old-school Photon at the PhoCon 30th anniversary event that took place at XP Lasersport in Laurel, MD. He shared with me that the game system at this center had been designed with an option for a Photon-like playing and scoring style. He said that as long as we were the only ones there that we could play a Photon game if we wanted. Um...yes! I'll refer to an earlier post where I noted that as much as I love Photon as a concept and am good at laser tag in general, when I was in Laurel playing real Photon with people who had played it intensely back in the day I was no competition at all. In fact, I was quite pitiful (which was a blow to my ego having spent so much time honing my skills in my home laser tag arena). Here's the proof...


So, if for no other reason than to redeem myself, a one on one game of Photon with Paul sounded like a great idea while we had this opportunity. Of course there were some key differences - most obviously, no helmets - but having the opportunity to play anything even similar to Photon-style was very cool and I was appreciative of the offer. Another difference was quite obvious...there were only two of us. True Photon is played with two teams of up to ten players each and one of the things that makes it a bit unique is that you must clear your phaser after hitting the same player three times consecutively. If you hit a player three times in a row without firing on a different opponent or a base in between then your phaser will stop registering hits after the third shot. To clear it you must fire at something else before returning to target the first player. The idea is that by limiting the number of hits, then an experienced player could not just follow around a less experienced player and take continuous cheap shots for easy points (as often happens in other laser tag games...PSA - don't do that, it's not nice). So, that posed an interesting question. With only two of us, how would we clear the phasers? Having missed the original wave of Photon I really didn't know if there was any better answer than simply going for the bases in between shots. However, to simplify the clearing and give us an additional target in the arena the game master (a really nice girl whose name escapes me) went into the game with us. So now we were playing something similar to Photon with three individual players.We had fun and I felt redeemed by the end (wow, have I been hanging on to that for five months?) and even though the game master did have the upper hand on both of us, at least it felt like we were in it. Photon is scored quite differently than other games...point values are significantly lower and it is possible to go into negative scores. I honestly don't recall all the specifics of Photon scoring, but I think it can best be illustrated when you look at my stats surrounding this game...


If you didn't know that the game was scored differently you might look at that stat page and be surprised. I look at it and recognize that I was playing some light games in the first hour, but I wanted to record this for posterity because who knows when I'll have the opportunity to play Photon style again? It was great to be afforded the chance to do so and so it's with great appreciation that I thank the staff for letting me have the experience of faking Photon.

FYI, if you have questions or comments for me I invite you to visit my website at or e-mail me at

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