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Something Different at Stratum

Typically once I know a system I assume that there won't be too much difference in playing it between arenas. However, there are some interesting and unique things that I noticed the last time I played Infusion at Stratum in Mesa, AZ that I got answers about when I played there again this past weekend. The major thing that I wanted to know about were their totally unique "crystal" plastic panel bases.

They have two very unique base designs. One looks like a series of five crystal panels like what you see here and the other is a four sided rectangular crystal box. Now, they have very firm rules about not taking photos in the actual arena, BUT the manager on site did give me the go ahead to photograph a couple of interesting things in the briefing and vesting rooms including this example of what the bases look like. Since they run Infusion these are not the typical domes I would expect to see. When I played the game I was less invested in the other players and more interested in figuring out what was up with these bases. They deactivate with one shot instead of three (ok, just a change of settings there), but what fascinated me was that I could not figure out where the sensor was located or what I was actually shooting at.

Greg was kind enough to shine a flashlight to show me just what I wanted to see. These are custom bases designed just for Stratum and the IR sensor is actually built into the crystal itself. Tough to see, but there are a couple of bright sensors at the top. However, due to the reflectivity of the crystal design the IR light bounces around until it hits the sensor so with one shot it is virtually impossible to NOT hit the base. Very clever design!

This site does a great job of making you feel like you are entering another world. When the briefing is done you cross into the vesting area by way of a bridge with a forced perspective rotating tunnel with lights turning 360 degrees around the walkway, which feels VERY trippy and like you are losing your balance walking on solid ground. This is a FANTASTIC touch and I do appreciate being permitted to snap a pic this time around.

And then before you enter the arena you pick your vest from the vesting room. Another lingering question from my last visit was why do these Infusion packs look so different. Greg was able to answer that question as well. What was unusual to my eye was that these were clear cased packs instead of the black molded plastic that I have played with before. I did not realize that this was a second generation of Infusion pack until that minor difference was pointed out to me.

So getting answers to these questions that have been rattling around in my head since the last time I was in Arizona made this return visit to Stratum totally worthwhile. It claims to be the world's largest technotainment laser tag arena and I must say it is HUGE and the maze is complex enough to keep things really interesting during the games.

I enjoyed playing here again and also getting to chat with Greg who is about as interested in all aspects of laser tag as I am. Hope to play some tag with you at Armageddon sometime and thanks for the tour!

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