Show Me Something Cool at Amusement Expo International
The Amusement Expo International trade show was two days of visiting with manufacturers, learning about new products and seeing what the amusement industry had to showcase on the event floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
I have often said I’m an unusual presence there because I am neither attending as a buyer or a seller, but just someone who truly enjoys the experience and being able to share the latest developments.
Opening ceremonies began bright and early with representatives from the co-located conventions each taking a turn to address the attendees before the doors opened. Erik Guthrie spoke on behalf of the Laser Tag Convention.
They announced that Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Las Vegas was the AEI Charity Fund recipient (which I was delighted to hear as I supported Ronald McDonald House Charities with Tag 4 A Cause right around this time last year) and so there were local RMHC representatives participating in the ribbon cutting along with the delegates for the expo.
Following the ceremony, the doors opened and a sea of people flooded into what was being called a sold out show in terms of number of exhibitors. There was no doubt going to be a lot to see!
Off and running! I spent time chatting with all the laser tag manufacturers exhibiting at the show (and even a couple just checking things out) and asked them to show me something cool. Here’s what they had to share.
I also asked them each a series of questions that will be featured in an upcoming podcast episode, so watch for some pro-tips to be showing up on Laser Unfocused Tag Talk very soon. :)
It’s always a treat to visit with my friends in the industry who are able to show me the latest laser tag innovations to be watching for as I continue my tag travels. Here are a few pics from the show.
Erik Guthrie, Senior Vice President of Zone Laser Tag and Jack Turner were showcasing Zone’s Helios 2 and the vestless Begeara 3.
Chris Epstein was ready to challenge me using the Laserforce Gen 8 Infinity.
Mike Ewald, president of LaserBlast is always willing to smile for a photo, whether it’s at the booth or on the CyberBlast selfie cam.
And Shane Zimmerman of Delta Strike took some time to answer some questions and show me the membership kiosk options for the Genesis system.
Ann Kessler was spotlighting LASERTRON’s axe throwing while also teasing the new phaser design we will be seeing more of later in the year.
And Paul Savard, president of Lazer Runner smiled as I donned one of their newest packs.
The ladies of Netronic, Oksana Obod and Natalie showed me their sublimated phasers with colorful artwork as well as some of the accessories that can be used with their system.
Brian Sytkowski of Battle Company shared the progress on their new phaser design as we sent a selfie off to a mutual friend.
And Derek Petit showed me the newest accessories available with Outback Laser Tag equipment.
Of course there is so much to take in from all ends of the amusement industry. We heard from Bob Cooney who is now perhaps best known as “the VR Guy” and while I can’t help but ask him about laser tag (he was the former CEO of Laser Storm) I want to keep an open mind to what is evolving in the world of VR as well since (as I see it) there is a loose thread of connection to be aware of between the two kinds of gaming.
I was intrigued to discuss this connection with Creative Works president Armando Lanuti.
And I also decided to re-visit a demo of Arenaverse, as I am mostly interested in the VR options that offer a simulation to laser tag.
Although VR does offer a wide variety of enjoyable gaming experiences and there is certainly room for both to coexist in the entertainment marketplace, to my mind VR is simply not a substitute for the direct, face to face connection you make with other players in a laser tag arena.
Visiting with some of the arena designers is a great way to learn what locations are worth keeping on my radar.
Lathan Gareiss of ARC Studios talked to me about some of the latest things he is doing with lighting, including how he incorporated between 50,000-60,000 LED lights at one arena I visited at the start of my trip.
And I talked with Larry Kirchener of Blacklight Attractions about an arena he is very proud of that I plan to visit soon in Texas.
I also chatted with Beth Standlee of Trainertainment about her tips for laser tag operators, which will also be included in my next podcast.
And as the Laser Tag Convention is a fundraiser for the Laser Tag Museum, I was happy to see how Eric Gaizat set up the museum’s display while Erik Guthrie gave a tour of some of the particularly rare packs being showcased.
As you can see, there was a tremendous amount to see and experience during the Amusement Expo International trade show. This was an incredibly worthwhile couple of days spent in Las Vegas!
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Websites: www.tiviachickloveslasertag.com and www.photonforever.com