My first stop upon crossing the border into northern North Carolina was to Lazer X in Burlington. I am intrigued by the history of sites that are called Lazer X and yet operate completely independently of each other, because I have played at a few of them including Lazer X in Fort Wayne, IN (with Cyber Blast) and Lazer X in Sacramento, CA (with Helios Pro). At this point I believe most (if not all) are independently owned sites, but since the ones I have been to all pretty much use similar logos it seems logical that perhaps they must have at once point had origins connected with Lazer X and Intersphere. But if that is the case here I will need to do my homework. It’s coincidental, but just so happens that the next two sites I would play back to back are both called Lazer X, but they are completely separate businesses running completely different laser tag systems.
The Burlington site has moved on to newer equipment and a new owner, Jeff, who has very recently taken over this site. It’s now known as Lazer X – The Family Zone (as they now operate using Zone Nexus). I was really looking forward to playing Nexus again the way I know and love it.
I went in with a group that I took for regulars at this site. The guy in particular seemed to be “the one to beat” and even though this was a small game, it was really a lot of fun!
We went into a single level arena with a typical CW maze and I scoped out the bases.
One was in a far corner to the right, but the other was in a separate alcove of the arena on the left, both housed under large, open structures. The arena played well and felt like a larger space than what I’m sure it was. And the game itself played well too…my Nexus timing has returned! ;) I was definitely ON this game and it felt good. My thanks to the other players for going in strong and making this a fun round.
When the game was done we collected our scorecards. As the game master asked who played with which pack the guy (who was easily the strongest player and probably the usual winner) pointed to me and said “she’s DEFINITELY Olympia”, indicating he knew I won the game even before it was announced. And…yeah. Like I said, I was really on my game that round. It felt gratifying to do that well against people who play here often.
After the game I chatted with Jeff, asking my questions about an Intersphere connection, but as he is a new owner he did not know the full history of the site. However, they made my day by offering a nice selection of Lazer X tag swag (t-shirts, long sleeves, lots of cool options) so I had souvenirs to take home!
Thank you Lazer X Burlington!
And then I was off to a totally unrelated laser tag site, coincidentally also called Lazer X, this one located in Archdale, NC. At this site the owner, Sylvia, had much more insight to offer about the history, but I had to wait because I arrived just as a game was entering the arena and because of time I was eager to get in and play.
Lazer X of Archdale runs Laserforce, so it was a completely different tag experience. The game had just started and I joined a small game with two players who I’m certain were surprised to see me suddenly appear in the arena too!
I smiled when I walked in and discovered…those walls!
And then I went off to locate the bases (there are four hidden within this double level arena, but one is in a very unexpected place…I won’t ruin it for you).
Of the two players I went in with, once again it was the guy who stood out as the most experienced player between them. This was good. I think we both gave each other a pretty decent chase. Although I was tempted to announce my experience level and ask him his I suspect that it didn’t much matter as I was told I would not have been able to sign in with my Syracuse membership anyway. But I could tell this guy definitely understood the shot timing…which made it all the more perplexing when we left the arena and I saw that I had taken the bases and he had not deactivated any. If he had fully understood the game I believe he would really be a “force” to be reckoned with. But regardless, I enjoyed the game with them both and the chance to scope out both levels of this site...which is really BIG!
Then I was able to chat a bit more with Sylvia about the Intersphere connection and she confirmed that yes, they had originally started the business using the Intersphere laser tag equipment before replacing the system with Laserforce in the subsequent years. I appreciate being able to chat with longtime operators who can shed light on what the industry was like when they started and how it is different now.
Based on information from the Laser Tag Museum website, it appears that after Intersphere (which originated in Holland) began to distribute in the U.S. there were two separate efforts to get trademarks on the name “Lazer X” (which I understand was the name of their flagship U.S. arena location in Iowa). I will refer you to this link for more details on the who, what, where, when and why on this one.
So that does align and make sense based on my personal experience with several distinctly different tag sites in various parts of the country, unrelated, but all still using a similar name. Clearly there are still some independent operators continuing to be successful with their businesses, only now operating with other laser tag systems of their choice. I am still of the belief that there are probably only two places left in the U.S. still running with Intersphere. But to most people this bit of historical minutiae is totally irrelevant to the fun there is to be had playing with the new equipment. And for me Lazer X of Archdale was definitely a great time! I appreciate that they got me into a game quickly to keep me on track for my next stop and I particularly want to thank Sylvia for chatting with me and giving me some insight about her experience as an operator who transitioned from her previous system to the Laserforce system that people can enjoy playing their now. This was a very educational visit!
Comments or Questions?
Websites: www.tiviachickloveslasertag.com and www.photonforever.com