Every now and again I think that I want to eat lobster. I have a tendency to forget that I am actually allergic to lobster and that it will make me ill. But I know that other people think lobster is the greatest food on earth, so I occasionally try to convince myself that I can enjoy lobster too...and every time I am wrong. In a way, that is my weird analogy for playing Quest in Canada, at least so far.
(author's edit - I've since come to really enjoy playing Laser Quest)
My friends and I decided to play a little more laser tag and called ahead to a local Quest center to make reservations (I had never before experienced a time when a laser tag reservation was necessary - let alone on a Sunday night - and I have played arenas at full capacity, but I appreciate that they gave us the heads up that they were busy). So we ventured out and bought a three game package for the evening. As soon as we arrived I remembered we had played at this center once before with mixed feelings about it. This was about a year ago I believe. I remember I left that first Quest experience feeling like I hadn't played laser tag the way I like to, but thought it was possible that this was a result of not placing as high as I normally do and maybe that was the reason I didn't like it as much. Time to give it another go.
I should start with some positives, as this center really did have a number of good things going on as well. I was impressed with the aesthetic of the briefing room. I really like to play in arenas that make an effort towards a cool atmosphere and this briefing room did have beautiful space-age art on the walls and attractive black lighting. I don't understand places that don't offer seating for briefing, but it was short and a young female game master (or "marshall" as she preferred) gave us the quick run-down on two out of three games. On the third game she got a little creative with her speech and asked everyone to raise their key tag with their left hand and put their right hand over their heart while pledging in unison to follow the rules...a little over the top as almost everyone playing was an older teen or an adult that game.
Another thing I noticed and appreciated was that this center was making an effort to involve their players in special events. There were posters all over the place for special days and hours including a family day and, get this...50 Shades of Lasers where you could "show your skills in a variety of games" at an upcoming late-nighter...that is clever ingenuity and I give them props for that.
Finally, I like that the staff here is clued in to other forms of laser tag. I always find that impressive when someone knows what they are talking about in terms of other systems and equipment and are not just there to recite the company line. I have experienced this twice at this center. When I was there a year ago it was the first time anyone had talked to me about the Armageddon (the multi-system, multi-team annual tournament) and that impressed me. This time the guy behind the counter noticed me wearing my Photon hat and commented on it. I love when people recognize Photon (as it's a sign they've been into laser tag for awhile) and he mentioned a few people with whom we were mutually acquainted. So in my book they score points for knowing what's going on in other laser tag realms also.
So, yes, this place did have some good stuff going on and, yes, it was laser tag so that's a positive right there. However, there are a few things about my experience that I just generally was not wild about. First is the equipment. It's a matter of preference...everyone has their favorites and I think my heart belongs to Zone...I still think the Quest phasers are a little big and bulky. They feel like a bazooka or a cannon! The barrel of the phaser is quite long in my opinion and it is heavier than I like and does not feel natural to carry. It also is tiresome to shoot. I found myself alternating between pulling the trigger with my forefinger and middle finger because the repetitive motion of firing the phaser started to ache a bit...and I'm a trigger-happy kind of player. :)
I will say the arena was cool with lots of mirrors (always interesting to aim at the colorful lights and find you're shooting at yourself) and multiple levels of play (and any experienced player quickly found their way to the top for the best vantage point). However, in spite of the impressive playing space, the experience was marred for me by some of the unruly players...and I literally mean "un-rule-y". I mentioned there were plenty of older teens and adults playing there. Every game was a free for all (with nearly a packed house I didn't understand why...I prefer team play and there were more than enough people there for that to make sense, but I was told this is their standard format at this center unless doing a special event). Now, I know how it feels to walk into your home center and feel like you are about to rule the roost...which is exactly what must have been the case with a few of these players...however, that only means something if you play and win fairly. I was annoyed by one older player in particular who on two separate occasions grabbed my phaser by the barrel and physically pushed it down because he was irritated I had gotten a shot on him and was continuing to keep him in my sights. To this I have two things to say...first, if you don't want me to shoot at you then just WALK AWAY FROM ME! I can only shoot what's in front of me. Don't just stand there in my face and complain about it...take cover and play the game like we came here for. Second...ahem...did you forget the pledge you recited? One of the basic rules in every laser tag arena is NO PHYSICAL CONTACT. Grow up and play right. He and his friends seemed to both simultaneously gang up on me and fear (or respect?) my playing as they tended to travel throughout the arena in a pack and periodically made comments that I regarded as a badge of honor on my ability. I'm fine with that. However, in a similarly irritating incident, one of my friends later commented that someone in the arena had taken their vest off to play citing that "the rules say not to cover your sensors, but don't say anything about taking them off"...really? I don't know if it was the same guy I had an issue with or one of his cronies, but I hate hearing about stuff like this. It's unnecessary and unsportsmanlike.
All that said, I was determined from the first game that I wanted to play really well just to put these guys in their place for the nonsense we experienced playing with them. I scored decently the first couple of rounds, but not to the level I was trying for (I know 5th out of 36 is good, but not good enough if these guys were the four people ranking ahead of me). However, I didn't know my placement coming out of that first game and that REALLY irritated me. Instead of pausing long enough to put the scores from that round up on the display monitor so we could see who had done what, they didn't acknowledge the scores from that round AT ALL! They said we'd get our scores from that game handed to us on a score card after the next game, but we would not see them on the screen because we were sent back into the arena immediately. WHAT?!!! Now, as it turns out I placed 5th in both the first and second rounds, but that is entirely beside the point. If I had been number one I would have wanted to relish knowing that I had prevailed over these guys who were breaking the rules. And if they were in fact placing higher I would have wanted to identify who was in those positions so as to adopt a better strategy next time to counterbalance their antics. Instead I felt totally cheated out of the results of that first game. I'm sorry, I am a results driven person and I need to see my name on the monitor. It's just part of why I like the game. I think this was my biggest beef with playing at this facility.
So at the end of the second round we got the satisfaction of at least seeing the scores. It barely felt like a pause in between before we were whisked back in for the third game (I like to play lots of successive rounds, but the pacing to get us herded in and out seemed a little bit too quick). By this point I felt like I had a handle on the arena and I definitely had more than enough fueling me to want to do well. So I pulled out my inner warrior (my tae kwon do instructor says the "kyap" - or the hi-ya scream - is really the warrior within...my warrior's name is Tivia and laser tag is where she gets unleashed) and I gave it everything I had left after burning up for the first two games. I will say, I apologize for some collateral damage as I inadvertently ended up shooting at my friends more than I intended...yes, "Milky" and "Waltz" took multiple hits while they were tucked into a hidey-hole, but I swear I didn't realize it was them when I first began shooting...sorry guys :) And Garth was still doing well moving around the arena, so we did cross paths a few times as well. But my main focus was on targeting "those pesky kids" and getting to the top of the scoreboard. This would have been easier if Paul didn't keep getting in my way. He plays quite well, but was literally in my way all night and hindering me...yet another reason I prefer teams is that you can have a few allies rather than treating everyone in the arena as an obstacle...he should be an ally, right? But in this case we were still playing free for all, so everyone was up against everyone and I had to work around this. I know I played well that game. I can just feel it when I'm on. So when we exited the arena this last time I felt pretty positive about the outcome. We looked at the screen and...
Paul and I had the top two spots...although he had edged me out of the top score by a margin of just 27 points! Sheesh...and congratulations. Mostly the latter. I'm glad he had a good game also and I'm glad we did what we were trying to do and that we outscored the rule breaking kids. That felt like a victory. And our other friends were doing a great job that round too, so we left on a high note. We even bought some goofy souvenir swag bags and took a moment to just have fun hanging out in the lobby.
So the experience ended well...and in hindsight it's really more about particular interactions that I wasn't wild about more than the game itself. But I will definitely be back for more Laser Quest!
If you have comments or questions please visit my website at www.tiviachickloveslasertag.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.