The Absence of Malice
Remember the difference between the Peach Pit and the Peach Pit After Dark? That's kind of a...well, a really ridiculous parallel to the difference between laser tag and SM5 laser tag after hours with the better players last night. I just got to experience this on a whole different level. But as I was perched atop a raised platform (how did I even get up there?) watching during the one game when I rested on this otherwise steady night of practice I couldn't help but think "this isn't Kansas anymore, this is Pink Floyd's dark side of Oz".
One night of playing with the serious players (at this game format which I really hope to eventually master) definitely gave me a much better feel for the game. I must say, I felt no direct hostility towards me from anyone, likely because I am regarded as the newbie and all the players were giving me a chance to learn. I certainly appreciate that and found it worthwhile. And to some degree I was braced and prepared for what was to come. However, as much as I had been told that this was a whole different experience, I was still a little bit taken aback by the intensity with which everyone literally seemed to attack the game. From the language to the confrontations, the walkouts and the drama I must say if I didn't experience this night of practice for myself I doubt I would have believed it was even the same game I played last week.
And really, it wasn't. I think it boils down to this. Everyone plays so passionately and puts so much into it that when something doesn't go quite right in the arena the tempers do get amplified. However, I think the most important thing I took away from being part of this night was an appreciation for the absence of malice. As heated as things might get from time to time and as loud as some of the disagreements might become, as far as I could tell nobody did anything with the intent to be difficult or to deliberately cause a problem. I believe everyone had the genuine intent to play hard and play their best. In every game there are bound to be different perspectives and I think that accounts for some of the heated exchanges I observed that I had trouble wrapping my mind around. However, if that's the way it's going to go next week (and I suddenly have no doubt that it will) then I'm glad I got my first glimpse of it now. I'm accustomed to extreme competition in other facets of my life, but the way it is handled from scenario to scenario may be dramatically different. When I next encounter this level of intensity in laser tag competition I will just take it in stride with a deep breath and try to remember three words..."absence of malice". So long as that holds true then everyone should come out of the arena in one piece...I do hope!
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