New Laserforce Avatar = A VERY Happy Tivia!
IAAPA recently took place in Orlando and provided an opportunity for laser tag manufacturers to showcase their newest gear, updates and features. Although I was not attending the expo this time around, I was still fortunate to get a peek at some of what Laserforce had to debut in their latest SUP release. I have to say, when I stumbled upon this little easter egg included with their new avatars in the update I almost cried from happiness!!!
This new avatar makes me SO happy! If only you could have seen my reaction when I first discovered it and realized that they have included an avatar with a design inspired by the Tivia character from Photon!!!
For those not familiar, my first exposure to laser tag came before I ever actually played the game. When I was around six years old I saw it portrayed on the Photon tv show during the one season that the series was made in Japan to promote the first commercial laser tag game system. To this day Photon holds a very nostalgic place in my heart, even though I did not have a chance to experience playing it firsthand until many years later. Photon is the granddaddy of them all and the place where you can trace back the roots and inspiration for so much of the laser tag that we enjoy today. Laserforce even features a Photon emulation game mode, which is one of my favorites that I request to play every week when I am at my home Laserforce site in Syracuse.
Why am I so enamored with this avatar? The character that inspired it is a symbol to me and represents a significant part of my laser tag journey. Who can fathom why the idea of Tivia, the laser tag ninja princess, kicking Arr (not a typo) and taking names would resonate so strongly with me, lol?! That’s why years later she became the namesake for both my website and my own codename.
Every now and again someone hears the name and occasionally picks up on the reference. However, this is not what I would call a highly recognizable image by any stretch of the imagination, so for this design so clearly “resembling” Tivia (although officially called “Valkyrie”) to be included as a new Laserforce avatar is really a very special hidden gem that pays a bit of homage to the OG.
I was very curious about how this image was considered and chosen so I asked Laserforce Global Operations Officer Rohan Kelly about the “who, how and why” behind this design. Here is what he had to say…
“We at Laserforce appreciate the work you do and the enthusiasm you show for the laser tag community, so I can say for sure that the release of this avatar was not a coincidence. My head of development and also an avid league player, Chris, ran the idea past me and I was on board with it - he wanted to release it as a surprise, or easter egg.”
Wow…that says everything I needed to hear! So, yes, this debut complete with all the semiotics of it was particularly exciting for me and this avatar has already become my permanent Laserforce membership icon.
This seems like a good time to throw some respect to the woman who brought this character to life on the small screen back in the 80s. I want to take a moment to spotlight the original Tivia, portrayed by singer/songwriter Loretta Heywood (Bomb The Bass, Five Shades, Winter In July) so you can appreciate how spot-on they got this resemblance right!
There are lots more behind the scenes photos from the show (thank you David Stay) on my sister website at PhotonForever.com. You can also check out this interview I did with Loretta back in 2015 (aka Tivia and Tivia Have a Chat).
I just can’t get over this awesome avatar! It obviously resonates with me on a very personal level. There are a number of other new avatars available in the newest Laserforce update as well that I’m sure others will be excited to see also.
I am also really enthused about some of the new Laserforce game modes and feature capabilities that operators are able to offer with this update. I had a chance to play several new games with the members at my site and everyone really enjoyed them. Plus, my thanks to those who simultaneously took this opportunity to participate in Tag 4 A Cause and make a donation to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief while earning their laser tag 5K medal.
Here is an overview of some new game modes we played.
LaserBall Classic: It’s played almost like soccer or basketball, only you carry and pass a “virtual ball”. When you get the ball your pack starts to flash. You can pass it by tagging a teammate or tag an opponent to steal it from the opposite team. The objective is for your team to run the ball from your own base and tag the opposing team’s base in order to score the goal. Goals can be scored multiple times throughout the course of a game. This mode really requires teamwork! Laser Ball let’s you shoot and score in a whole different way and I really liked this game immediately.
A variation on this game format is LaserBall Mayhem and the key difference there are three teams and three “virtual balls” are in play, not just one. We experimented with opposing beacons being the goal instead of bases. I think I’m partial to the first way, but it’s nice to know there are some variables to mix it up a bit.
Chain Lightning: This game uses Laserforce’s newly added proximity detection, a feature which I think is very smart to incorporate. This is essentially like standard laser tag except for one crucial difference…you can deactivate a player along with any of their teammates near them within proximity because of those sensors.
Deflection: This was one of my favorite new games. You cannot deactivate an opponent with a tag by yourself and trying to tag an opponent directly will not do anything. Instead you must zap a teammate who is near your opponent to “amp it up” and have your signal “reflect” onto an opponent. When we played I tucked into a little nook under the beacon, taking on more of a support role and I just made sure I fed tags to my teammates. I’m going to call this the “Gretzky Game” because in this game (just like with hockey’s great one) it is all about the assist. :)
Swarm: All I remember about this game is that the number of hit points is determined by the number of teammates around you and there is strength in numbers. Why is my memory so fuzzy about this one? Because I discovered the avatar only moments before we went into this game so I was just running around the arena in a happy fog!
This is always an exciting time of year when it is cool to get an early look at what is on the way to our laser tag centers and I am certain that players will enjoy the latest that Laserforce has to showcase. Although I did not attend IAAPA myself this year, I am glad that with safety precautions in mind that the event was able to go on and that there is plenty to be excited about in the laser tag industry going forward. And I am equally delighted to see what Laserforce has done with this new take on a little piece of nostalgia that harkens back with a nod to where it all began. :)
Comments or Questions?