Vanquish aliens, save the Earth, and live out your fantasies using a harmless
laser beam. It's all in good fun. It's also a good way to make some
It's a game called laser tag.
"Laser tag is truly a game where young and old come together as one," says
Michael Moody, 22. Players in his league range from age 14 to age 39.
In this culture of high technology, laser tag seems to be a new age version
of the roller skating craze of the '70s. Played in an arena surrounded
by black lights, loud music, and even fog, laser tag is an interactive game.
You can play as an individual or as part of a team. You can even hold your
next birthday party at a laser tag arena.
Players wear basic equipment. This includes a vest with an attached phaser
that fires the laser beam. Equipment is provided by the host arena and is
included in the admission price, usually about $5 to $7 per game. There are
discounts for multiple games.
The object of the game is generally to defend your home base while attacking
the other side's base. When the laser beam on your phaser makes contact
with the sensors of the vest of another player, "tagging" them, you earn points.
You can also tag the home base of the other team, or mines and other targets,
depending on which version of the game you're playing. At the end of
the game, you receive a computer printout describing your own hits and misses,
as well as the winning team and high scorer.
There are many different versions of laser tag all over the world. There
are Zone, Ultrazone, Q-Zar (or Quasar), Laser Chaser, Laser Runner, and Laser
Quest, among others.
The differences may be the type of game played. Some are very straightforward,
and others are built around mission themes. The type and quality of equipment
varies as well. Many of the Web sites have good descriptions, as well as instructions
on how to play.
There are rules that must be followed for players' safety. Play must
be fairly orderly, with no running, climbing or touching. Injuries do occur
once in a while, usually when rules are broken. Game masters are on hand to
instruct players on how to play. They also enforce the rules and expel anyone
who breaks them.
While laser tag is not yet a widely recognized sport, it is gaining popularity
rapidly. Over 350,000 people play each month in the U.S. and Canada. Competitions
are becoming more common.
Kristen Gielecki of Michigan had her most and least favorite moments during
laser tag competitions. Her team won the 1997 North American Championship,
which was good. But things were a little tense at a recent tournament.
"For about five minutes, we thought we were eliminated from this year's
regional tournament. Happily, the scores had been affected by an internal
equipment failure, and we won the re-played game to advance to the finals
in September," says Gielecki.
There aren't a lot of employment opportunities in laser tag yet. The
best opportunity would be as the owner of a laser tag facility. You might
also act as game master or monitor. If you're really a whiz at technology,
you might apply your talents to developing new equipment and games for manufacturers.
"My favorite experiences would be the rush I got in the first few games,
since it was a new experience. It also felt real good as I got better and
managed to get highest scores in the game," says Steffen Lindner.
If you're just starting, he advises, "Locate your nearest facility
and simply go there. Bringing some good friends also helps make the experience
International Laser Tag Association
236-5351 E. Thompson Ave.
A laser tag company
Offers laser tag equipment and theme arenas
Offers equipment and site selection advice