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Lasertag is an indoor sport loosely related to (as the name would suggest) the original game of tag. While seen by some as having more relation to the sport of paintball, lasertag is quite different, usually featuring less realistic environments such as mazes, different modes of gameplay, and is usually accompanied by music.

The Game Of Lasertag

Lasertag systems vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, and centre to centre, but usually consist of a tagging device (which may or may not resemble some sort of handheld gun). The tagging device emits a laser beam, and usually one or more infrared (IR) beam as well, which carries information such as who tagged whom. Typically, the laser is merely a special effect of sorts, although it is not unheard of that the laser itself is the IR.

The player wears a pack, usually in the form of an open vest, with sensors placed in various locations. In the lasertag community, these sensors are colloquially known as "targets", although such terminology is frowned upon by image-conscious owners. The laser or IR, when striking a sensor, transmits the pertinent data to the pack, data which is usually available via an LCD or similar screen on the tagging device itself.

All packs are connected to a central server which records points, the location and number of tags on other players, the location and number of tags on oneself, and a beam/tag ratio.

Typically, a player will receive a scorecard at the end of the game with this information recorded for posterity.

It is worthy of note, also, that the typical lasertag system does not function very well in any sort of incandescent or fluorescent light; therefore, most lasertag mazes are dark, and lit by blacklights. A maze will feature fog machines as well, to illuminate the laser beams. This fog is often apparently invisible to the participants, but it is noticeable when looking into the maze from a room with normal lighting.

Types Of Players

There are really only two types of lasertag players: the elite (usually members in a players' club), and the recreational.

Elite players are usually identified by their unique playing styles, knowledge of the mazes, and ability to rack up large numbers of points.

Recreational players will show up for a bit of fun, most likely to be soundly defeated if any members are present, though upsets do happen when a recreational player catches on quickly.

Lasertag Systems

There are many different types of lasertag systems in existence. Here is a list of them:

Actual Reality
Laser Space
Laser Duel
Laser Chaser
Laser Force
Laser Quest
Laser Storm
Laser Star
Laser Shots
Phaser Fun
Q-Zar (Quasar)

Types Of Games

The two most common lasertag games are Team Games and Solo Missions. Both usually feature an unlimited number of beams, and an unlimited number of lives. In a team game, teams are distinguished by different coloured sensors. In solo missions, everyone is fair game for everyone else, though informal teams and packs are sometimes formed.

Other less common game types, such as Highlander, have their own special rules which may be unique to the lasertag location or lasertag system being used. A Highlander game, for instance, is a game of stealth, each player receiving a fairly limited number of both beams and tags (or shots and lives as a member would say). The last player standing in the maze is crowned winner, though it is common that the winner will have less points than those who exit early.

Ring events are lasertag matches held in an area approximately fifteen by fifteen feet wide where players compete against one another without walls or obstacles to hide behind. Lord of the Rings is a ring event that gained popularity in the mid to late 1990's among players of the Ultrazone lasertag system in the United States, Canada, England, Sweden and Finland.

Lasertag Etiquette

Though the types of courtesy shown in a maze may vary, it is generally good to observe a few ground rules. Running, physical contact, covering sensors, climbing walls or maze elements, crowding, and even using offensive language are frowned upon.

Lasertag Slang

Although a subculture of sorts can form around member's clubs, only a very limited vocabulary of specifically lasertag-oriented slang has been recorded. However, it does exist:

A godpack is a pack whose tagging device is functioning extremely well, or whose sensors (or one particular group of sensors) are functioning particularly poorly. A godpack can also mean a pack that is used by employees to control other packs (to penalize cheaters, for example).

A lock-in is an all-night lasertag party, usually lasting at least five hours, sometimes up to eight or nine hours, and may be themed. Some tournaments are also run in a lock-in format.


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