As our world is in the middle of an incredibly difficult time and we are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by encouraging people to stay at home and socially distance from others, one facet of that response is that many laser tag arenas have temporarily shut their doors. As a result, today is International Laser Tag Day…only without laser tag for most of us.
Even if we are unable to play laser tag to celebrate today, I’d like to suggest that an alternative for now is to read about laser tag instead. I have found a few fictional book choices for you that (at last I checked) were easy to find on either Amazon or eBay, so getting them delivered could be an opportunity for you to stay at home and experience some laser tag vicariously through the characters.
I’m currently in the middle of reading Laser Tag by Kevin Flanders. Since I am not deep enough in to offer a proper review just yet I’ll just invite you to read it along with me. What I can tell you is it’s a thriller about a killer who returns to a New England town every few years and the time has come for him to return for a deadly game of laser tag with a player who got away from him the last time. I’m using this time off to catch up on my reading and find out how this story ends!
For now, I’ll give you my impressions of four other laser tag related books that I have read, all fiction and all very different from one another.
We Always Win at Laser Tag by Gary L. Norman is set in Virginia in the mid-nineties. Having played some outdoor tactical laser tag myself in that very same part of Virginia I wondered if the author had the same kind of experience and whether that served as the inspiration for the story. This book definitely assumes the players are doing some sort of outdoor tactical, not traditional arena tag. It’s the story of a rag tag team of ego-driven players (who are surprisingly the protagonists) trying to take down an unbeatable team that seemingly came out of nowhere. Remembering that this story begins in 1995 is very important as the technology that drives the turning point of the plot is an artifact of the time. I’m not sure that younger people would completely appreciate the technology of that time that becomes key to the story’s resolution (what’s a CD?). And that’s actually fine because the book is laced with a whole lot of unnecessarily harsh and incredibly politically incorrect language in a somewhat misguided attempt to make the characters conversations more believable, so for that reason I would not recommend this for younger readers anyhow. Although, if not for the language and the need for understanding a few references from that time, the essence of the story might otherwise be more geared to a younger audience than the one that actually lived through that era, so I suppose it is a matter of perspective.
However, if you are looking for something that really IS intended for a younger reader, how about Tag, You’re It – Laser Tag, which was actually written by a kid. The author is a nine-year old boy named Connor Benjamin Littlejohn. This is a juvenile fiction selection perfect for elementary school aged kids who are certainly home from school for a couple more weeks. This is written for children by a child so it is a completely different selection and I admire this young man for being able to publish three books (yes, this is the third in his tag series) at such a young age!
Laser Quest is a graphic novel written by Mick Gowar and illustrated by Peter Dennis. This one was published overseas in the late nineties so it may be a little less readily available, although there were a fair number of copies listed on eBay at last check. This book is a little bit of a mystery to me as it VERY clearly depicts Laser Quest equipment, however there is nothing else I see that would indicate to me that it is in any way connected with the Laser Quest brand. The book has a fairly simple mystery plot about a girl who doesn’t really want to be at her kid brother’s laser tag birthday party and especially doesn’t once she realizes that someone is playing with real lasers. Because this was published in London I invite any of my overseas Quest friends to chime in if you know anything about the origins of this book. But regardless, it’s a cute read with some nice graphic depictions of the game.
The last book I want to share is Arena by Holly Jennings and this was definitely my favorite, although technically it isn’t really about laser tag. To be frank, there is no actual laser tag in the book (it’s about a VR gamer simulation) , BUT it describes competition in an arena that I could definitely relate to and if in your mind you substitute the occasional “virtual weapon” with a phaser, then it reads like the PERFECT laser tag book…that just happens to not include any laser tag (irony noted). This is an awesome read for any gamer, but especially a female gamer. It follows a team working their way through an elite league tournament with interest on a global scale. The protagonist is the first female captain in the history of the tournament and faces relatable challenges and obstacles as the team advances. This book was gripping and had me from page one. Seriously, get yourself a copy of this book. There is also a sequel called Gauntlet that I am looking forward to reading as well.
So, there are a few choices for your reading enjoyment as we all get through this challenging time doing the distancing that is needed to keep us safe and healthy. I would welcome knowing if anyone else has some laser tag book suggestions to offer. This is quite different from how I expected to be spending International Laser Tag Day. My original plan was that I intended to play some Laser Storm at an arena in New Jersey. I’ll still get there sometime in the future. Why Laser Storm? Because this year’s Laser Tag Day poster celebrates the 30th anniversary of this iconic system and that seemed at the time to be the most appropriate way to celebrate!
However, to offer something to look forward to in the meantime, I’ll tell you now that very soon I will be sharing my interview with the co-founder and former CEO of Laser Storm, Bob Cooney. I hope that can be a way that we can still remember Laser Storm’s history and celebrate International Laser Tag Day, just a little bit later than usual this year.
Comments or Questions?
Websites: www.tiviachickloveslasertag.com and www.photonforever.com