PHOCON 2019: Celebrating Photon and the 35th Anniversary of Laser Tag

35 years after the first laser tag, Photon, opened in Dallas, Texas players are still loving and remembering the game. For the most loyal fans of the original laser tag an annual celebration called Phocon allows them a chance to revisit their memories of laser tag’s early days and once again play using original Photon pods and equipment on a modified Alpha field just like they remember. This event has been hosted several times ever since the game’s 30th anniversary in 2014 at XP Laser Sport in Laurel, Maryland and the 2019 Phocon celebration once again brought players back to be part of the fun and to party like it was 1984! This year’s three-day Phocon weekend stretched from August 23rd-25t

Mobile Tag at the Firemen's Fair

When I heard there was going to be laser tag at a local firemen’s fair I was enthused about it and on opening night I was ready to go play some tag. We arrived to find that the mobile operation that had been brought in for the event would be using Battle Company equipment. Wow…this is the third time in less than a month I’ve gotten a chance to play using this particular brand of tactical tag! We arrived to find that nobody else had yet signed up and the owner of the company suggested waiting about ten minutes until some other players arrived. That was fine. Ten minutes later there was still nobody else there so we waited another ten minutes before deciding that a 1v1 game would be fine. I’m

And then there were five…and four…

My main reason for taking this route through Canada was to visit a couple more Laser Quests in my continuing “quest” to visit all their sites in both the U.S. and Canada. After this trip I am down to only five more in Canada and four more in the United States. I arrived at Laser Quest London early in the day. John showed me around and took me down the stairs (yep, downstairs!) to the briefing room and vesting area. And then we proceeded into the arena that had a unique aesthetic and very cool layout. Because of the timeframe between London and my next stop in Kitchener I opted not to wait for their first group, but instead enjoyed playing a 1v1 game where I took the opportunity to get a few

Crossing Through Canada

Sometimes truth sounds stranger than fiction…at least that’s how it felt as I was leaving Detroit and explaining to the customs official at the Canadian border that, yes, I really was just crossing through Canada to play a couple of games of laser tag and then proceed home to New York (which meant at least 13 hours of travel involved). You see, when he asked me where I was going (London and Kitchener) and what I was doing there I told him exactly where I was headed (Palasad South and two Laser Quests) so he then asked what special thing was going on at Laser Quest? Well to me, the special thing was just to check off a couple more sites and hopefully bring back a couple more magnets for my co

Only a Simulation

This past weekend one of my clients hosted an event that included something very similar to laser tag (using IR, but targeting a screen rather than another player), only with real world practical training application. His business is a firearms shop where he will soon be implementing the Laser Ammo simulator to allow people to practice targeting AND get better educated about handling real life scenarios via a video simulator that will be accompanied by live instruction with a teacher. I first became familiar with Laser Ammo last fall when I tried it out at IAAPA. This is only a simulation…however, I think it is a very valuable resource based on what I saw and experienced when I tried my hand

The Light Shines on League Night

This past week’s league night format was none other than Photon emulation, so I showed up dressed for the occasion. All that’s missing is the helmet. :) I arrived at the league night in Syracuse having not been home for four days and dead tired from my trip, but I couldn’t fail to show on Photon night. Although this format provided some challenges, we held our own. I may be the only person at our site who really likes playing this game and frankly, three team Photon is not exactly Photon. But to quote something I said to someone a few weeks ago “would you rather play the game with a few quirks or not play the game at all?” Well, we came, we saw, we played and we actually started out pretty s

Back To Buffalo

On my way home on Sunday I knew I’d be passing through Buffalo area, so I returned to a tactical tag site that I really wanted to play when I first discovered it a couple of months ago. Now that I was headed back to Buffalo (or Tonawanda to be more specific) I would have my chance to play a round of tag at Buffalo Battleground. I had only a limited window of time to play here because I had to get my rental car returned to Syracuse on schedule, so I called ahead and they were great to coordinate an early 1v1 game for me with staff member Brian who gave me a tour of the arena. This is a large and very spacious indoor field where they use the Battle Company (formerly known as Laser Tag Pro) tac

Laser Storm at Skyway

My last stop on Saturday night was to play some Laser Storm at Skyway Drive-In in Warren, OH. I had no idea what to expect, but when I played Armageddon last month with George Raptis I told him I was looking forward to visiting his site next time I was in Ohio and I was really glad that opportunity presented itself this weekend. All I knew was that the site was somehow connected with a drive-in movie theater, which was an interesting twist. I didn’t even realize until that evening that my Armageddon teammate Dave Hatt worked in the concession building and plays at that site also. So, when I got there I was looking forward to visiting and playing some Storm, which is a always a rare and speci

A Completely Unique Arena

One of the most interesting arenas I have ever seen can be found at Extreme Air Trampoline Park (Boardman) in Youngstown, OH. This place doesn’t have a glossy theme on the arena walls like many of the places I’ve been to. Actually, most of it is bare wood and metal grate fencing and that’s ok because it reflects a lot of creativity in other ways. If you look back at where I’ve played over the last few days you’ll notice that most of the arenas (other than the LQ’s) are unrelated to each other and yet all have a very similar aesthetic. This one stands out to me specifically because it is NOT a CW design and that makes it unique and all the more special. However, that alone is not what makes i

Bringing Home Some Unexpected Souvenirs

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a posting I saw from a guy selling some laser tag packs. Well, a rather fortuitous opportunity presented itself while I was sitting in the Salt Lake City airport. The seller had posted again about the packs being available and I replied with a reminder that I would be interested in buying. He messaged me back with a price and description while I was waiting for my flight and I told him I was interested, but traveling and would be in contact with him once I returned. A few minutes later I was thinking about it and thought I remembered that this guy lived somewhere in Ohio. That’s where I was headed next! Of course, Ohio is a large state so I asked what city

Questing in Ohio

I’ve been asked several times how it can be that I already played Laser Quest in Akron, but somehow missed playing at LQ Canton. Well…I don’t know. I vaguely recall playing Akron as a side trip when I was in the area for a tournament a couple years ago and my best guess is I was probably pressed for time that day. Or maybe it’s just that at that point I wasn’t focused on playing at all the LQ locations like I am now. Regardless, I had to make up ground and that worked out very well for me all around. So I headed back to Ohio and picked up another site… And since the only sleep I got the night before was on a plane I was just as glad to play a light game of tag without pressure to play hard o

The “In-Between”

When you only have a few hours to spend in a city you try to check off as much laser tag as possible…well, at least I do. So, I had a couple more possible sites to visit in between my main objective (LQ) and returning to the Salt Lake City airport to catch the red eye flight leaving at midnight. Since I was already in Sandy, UT I proceeded a short ways up the road to All Star Bowling and Entertainment. They have several location and one was very convenient to where I was, so I was all set to play some Zone…although as it turns out this is actually a Laserforce site, so apparently all my pre-trip notes were incorrect, lol. OK, switching gears and ready to throw on a Gen 7 pack. I arrived duri

The New Lazer Runner Gen 4 Phaser!

Ever since IAAPA in November I’ve been eager to find a Lazer Runner site using the new Gen 4 phaser design. However, it has been difficult to identify these locations. Shout out to Chook who sent me a link to a place in Wisconsin that appears to have them, but I didn’t plan on getting there for a while, so you can imagine how elated I was to just stumble upon the new phasers while visiting Classic Fun Center in Sandy, Utah just outside of Salt Lake City. When I plotted my agenda for this trip I included this site, but for some reason I thought it was a Lasertron site. I actually almost skipped it and am so glad I didn’t! The laser tag arena here is a small and rather kid-oriented. Skating, b

Feeling Like a VIP in SLC (aka Laser Quest Salt Lake City)

As soon as I arrived in Salt Lake City I immediately headed for the Laser Quest. My primary reason for going to Salt Lake City was to play at this site which would bring me a step closer to playing all the LQs left in the US. Although I hoped to circle back to play again later in the evening, you never know what might happen on an impromptu trip so I decided it was best to stop here first. However, my GPS only got me to the general vicinity so I called the LQ for directions and was pleasantly surprised when the manager Dave said he already knew who I was. Turns out he was familiar with my journey, particularly my recent trip to Texas, because he was a Photon player from back in the day. What

Georgia On My Mind, Urban Jungle On My Map

Another whirlwind tag weekend (playing ---- sites over four days across four states while crossing the country and several time zones) started with me setting out for Atlanta, GA. My destination was Urban Jungle in Peachtree City to play in a little local tournament. My flight landed around lunchtime, so before heading over I decided to stop for lunch at a cute little eatery that features locally sourced foods and enjoyed some local mushroom risotto followed by peach panna cotta because this time around I did not want to miss out on the Georgia peaches. Last time I was in Georgia I settled for a peach slushee...NOT the same, lol! By the time I was done with lunch the tag site was open for bu

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