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Laser Tag Convention And Amusement Expo in New Orleans

When I set out for New Orleans bound for the Laser Tag Convention I realized that this year’s event might be a bit smaller than normal. However, things were still going on and it was still an excellent opportunity to see friends from the industry and meet with some of the key players representing various laser tag manufacturers during the Amusement Expo trade show. Word had gotten back to me that my oral history video series had been a part of the round table discussion at the convention the night before and I was ready to build on that by seeking out some additional interviews to add about the history of the International Laser Tag Association (ILTA). I was definitely appreciative to have a press pass waiting for me when I got there so I could explore all that there was to experience.

Upon arrival I met up with one of my teammates, Scuba Steve, and we set off to explore the event. Although this show is not the size of IAAPA it was still an exceptional opportunity for connecting with a lot of people and products related to the laser tag and amusement industries. That’s how our friend Aztec and his wife Kim who are planning to open a laser tag facility happened to be there as well, so we had a nice little ‘geddon reunion at the show.

I made my rounds visiting a few of the manufacturer’s booths.

And I particularly enjoyed seeing the rare Laser Storm items on display at the Laser Tag Museum booth. This year celebrates the 30th anniversary of Laser Storm and it was great to see some of artifacts of this system’s past.

The Laser Tag Museum booth was the setting for two really nice encounters. First was a request by Key Snodgrass of RePlay Magazine to take my photo there with curator Erik Guthrie. RePlay Magazine had given me some nice coverage last year during the course of my 50 state journey and I’m looking forward to their April edition arriving soon.

The second was getting to conduct an interview with co-founder and former CEO of Laser Storm, Bob Cooney about the system he established 30 years ago. That interview will be available to view soon at the Laser Tag Museum website.

I also had opportunities to talk with former ILTA Executive Director Shane Zimmerman of Delta Strike…

And I interviewed Edward Gainer, CEO of Elite Laser Tag Equipment. He and his wife Dana have recently re-launched what was previously Adventure Sports HQ as a new business under the Elite name.

I’ll be sharing the interviews I did just as soon as I can, so keep a watch for them.

One of the coolest new things I saw showcased was Arenaverse, a virtual reality laser tag arena that was being demonstrated at the Laserforce booth.

Laserforce is now the distributor for Arenaverse and, although up to this point I’ve not been a huge fan of VR in general, I have to say this was amazingly cool. Check out my game against Nancy in the virtual arena (aka the empty space next to the booth).

Nick Risher, president of US Operations for Arenaverse, showed me how they can set up virtual laser tag for 2-12 people in about five minutes to play in an empty space as an untethered, free roaming game experience. I really like this and look forward to finding an opportunity to play this in a larger space. With a VR representation of a shield in one hand and a phaser in the other this experience impressed me a lot.

So, attending this event was incredibly worthwhile and I gained quite a bit of insight and gathered some really interesting new interviews to share. This was a great way to kick off the first two days of my adventure and learn more about the latest things going on in the laser tag industry.

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