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Correcting the Count Before the Countdown

“Erik, you’re right”…these are the words I said during a conversation at IAAPA after I ran out of sensible defense for my argument about what makes a laser tag arena count as new.

You may remember a couple of months ago when I reached my 200th arena I posted a list of the arenas and systems that I had played as of that point. This prompted some online discussion with a few other players who also have significantly high arena counts to compare how we all maintain our lists…and there were a variety of different opinions about what should qualify to round out a count. I’ll get into that in a moment, but where this is going is to tell you that my mind has been changed about one specific arena on my list (as well as how to count similar situations in the future).

So I decided that for New Year’s Eve I would officially correct the count before the countdown, which involved playing Champy’s Fun City in Plattsburgh (my 228th arena) followed by The Fun Spot in Queensbury, which will now be listed as 98th on my list replacing Arena 51 of Middleburg Heights, OH. There actually is some logic behind this, so stick with me as I explain.

When I started comparing lists with other players I realized that some of us who play at a lot of laser tag arenas have very different criteria for how we count them. And there are some anecdotal examples to illustrate why getting a handle on a clear answer is more challenging to than you might think.

For example…

Some people count the physical location alone. Erik told me he counts the actual address of the arena, regardless of whether a name, owner or system has changed inside the building. So when he took over Q-Zar Toledo, gutted it, rebuilt the entire map and upgraded the Zone system he would NOT count that site twice because he had already played there, albeit with everything but the name having changed. Although at well over 2000 arenas he does not feel like he needs to actually PLAY a game to count it. And in his particular situation I accept that, although for me it will only count once I actually play a game at a given site.

Some people keep several lists broken down by location, system, version and potentially more. Nathaniel counts his lists in multiple categories including how many sites visited, which system was played and even what version of the system, which in his case means that his lists show combination variations based on what equipment a particular site was using at the time he played it. 250 physical locations translate into more than 300 location/system combinations and he says the number increases to close to 400 if you count the various version upgrades. Meanwhile Travis counts systems and also believes just walking into the site qualifies, although for me personally I only kept track of systems as an afterthought and only count an arena once I have actually played a game there.

Some people feel that if there is a new owner, new name and new equipment that this could count as a new arena. This was originally my thought and the reason behind my post about Arena 51 in Middleburg Heights titled “97…and not 97”. Please ignore the fact that I later discovered a numerical typo on my own list which actually made this arena #98 instead. However, the question stemmed from the fact that a year earlier this site was called Laser Xtreme and ran Zone equipment under different ownership. When I signed up to be part of a local Cyber Blast tournament they were holding at Arena 51 I had no idea that it was the same place until I walked in…actually a staff member there recognized me before I recognized the place! So, although I was a little iffy about whether to count it or not, I convinced myself that new name + new owner + new system = new arena. I’m sure part of me just wanted to get a step closer to hitting my 100th at that time, but the logic seemed sound and I continued to build my list. However, when Erik challenged the fact that the “arena” had not actually changed and if “arenas” are what I am counting then Q-Zar Toledo actually fits my criteria more closely because in that case the entire arena was rebuilt entirely, unlike the other site where the arena was actually still the same. I had to let that sit and percolate for awhile before I was ready to say that, yes, he is right. So I am amending my list to have both Laser Xtreme and Arena 51 both listed as #57 on my list as they are technically the same arena.

Determining this as my personal criteria now will be helpful when inevitably this question comes up again down the road. I am fortunate that this is the only instance on my list where it came up, but that’s mostly because I’ve not returned to Detroit to play Revolution Laser Tag (formerly LT of Clinton Township and before that Laser Edge) or Q-Zar Toledo since it has undergone all its changes. I suppose I will treat these both in the same manner and count them only once, making my new list criteria a combination of arena/location regardless of any other changes to the business.

I’m not really tracking systems for myself on a consistent basis. This opens up another can of worms entirely. If an arena changes systems, runs multiple systems at once or imports a system adds to the flexibility of a number based on this criteria. A great example of this is XP Lasersport in Maryland. In Laurel they began as a Photon site and then changed over to Tron. However, I’ve never played Tron there, only Photon…but I didn’t play it back when they started, I’ve only played it at Phocon, so does that make it an import? I suppose so. And yet, at their former Owings Mills location they regularly ran Tron and tactical (tactical that changed to Laser Tag Pro at some point…not sure which system they used before that). So I would count Tron and LTP, but I have also played imported Storm and Q-Zar at this site, which I would NOT count because they were imported systems. So should I remove Photon from the list for the same reason? Ugh…my head hurts. So for now I will maintain my list purely based on arena counts. And that brings us back to New Year’s Eve.

Once I decided that Arena 51 could no longer be counted as my 98th arena I realized that I could either shift back almost 130 more arenas by one just to make the list right…OR…I could write a really long blog post justifying why I felt simply replacing the site on the list made more sense. I thought back to what I was doing and where I was playing around the time Arena 51 came on my radar for that tournament. What I was doing was spending a lot of time in Queensbury shoring up my Cyber Blast skills. You see, there are three laser tag arenas on one road in that area and two of them use CB, so I played a lot at those sites and regularly drove past The Fun Spot figuring I’d “save it” in case I needed it to even out my list at some point down the road (not even imagining that this would be the reason). So it was right there in the mix at exactly the same time I was preparing to play in Ohio. And since it easily could have been played at that same time it seems like the natural replacement for that 98th spot on my list to keep everything else neatly in place (and in the grand scheme of things it really doesn’t matter where an arena lands on the list as long as it was legitimately played). So I planned a trip to Queensbury on the tail end of a road trip through the Adirondacks that first led me north to Plattsburgh.

This past week I purchased a new car and was excited to take it out for an inaugural road trip. So when I realized there was a laser tag arena in Plattsburgh (over three hours away) with a straight drive south from there to Queensbury where a New Year’s Eve party would be taking place later in the night the plans just came together perfectly. So that’s how I found myself paying a visit to Champy’s Fun City in Plattsburgh.

Champy’s was a fun little arena inside an arcade behind a hotel. They have quite a few activities for families at this site including bumper cars, laser maze, mini golf and mini bowling and even a teddy bear building station. Champy’s mascot pays tribute to Champy, the local version of a “Loch Ness monster” for the Lake Champlain region.

When I arrived the arcade was quite busy and staff member Morgan greeted me. She coordinated a game with a few of the young players who had just finished a game in the two-level arena where they are operating with Helios CE. Morgan joined us to even out the game and we vested up.

The arena is small, but uses the space well. I found one base, but a TON of targets on both levels. I really liked the original art painted on the walls which depicted a little town.

This was a light game, but definitely a great time and everyone really had fun. I enjoyed exploring the arena and getting a chance to check out this site which had a lot to offer…including an ice cream room! If you like to make your own sundae then save some room for the ice cream. I took mine with me and hit the road for my next stop.

I was about an hour and a half from Queensbury and arrived at The Fun Spot just as their New Year’s Eve party was getting started. I was glad I made the decision to pre-purchase my ticket by phone because this was a sold-out event and they actually had to turn people away at the door. I was handed some party favors upon arrival (New Year’s glasses and glow sticks) and passed by the roller skating in favor of joining the group that was waiting for the first game of Lasertron. About a dozen of us went in to the first round. There was a typical, double level Tron arena. The size was just about perfect for the 12 of us in that first game. The next game the group of players doubled in size and it started to feel a little tight.

They had prizes and favors and a big screen for watching the ball drop. Unlimited pizza and soda were a hit with everyone and it was a fun night, but since I was still two hours away from home and the weather was starting to turn I decided it was probably best to hit the road a little early. However, I got more than my fill of tag and fun during this trip and above all I was glad to have been able to get my list in order and officially correct the count before the countdown. I look forward to 2019 being filled with lots more tag adventures including playing laser tag in my 50th state in March. This is the year to make history!

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