Laser tag technology has changed dramatically over the past few years. No more sweaty vests in dark rooms packed full of kids. Laser tag has evolved!
Modern laser tag equipment can be compared to video game console. The console is a platform that evolves through periodic updates. Much like a video game console our equipment can play a wide range of games. We custom design our own games, player roles, and weapon modes. Our physical equipment is constantly evolving through firmware and software updates combined with new game and weapon designs.
Most adults have an outdated laser tag experience. They remember a game played in a dark maze with brightly lit equipment. Bulky vests, black lights, and maybe one or two weapon sounds. The equipment was tethered to your vest and you had to use both hands to fire. The game was basically a team-based free for all with little structure. Eliminations were based on a one shot kill approach with auto respawn. These facilities are still in operation but they represent a dying breed.
Traditional laser tag equipment is designed for indoor use under low-light conditions. The guns have rubberized tips, flashy lights, and special safety features. The sensors are commonly attached to vests with targets on the shoulders, chest, and back. The guns are often tethered to the vest to avoid drop damage, restrict player movement, and force players to remain upright. The guns require to two hands to operate; a second safety trigger must be held down to ensure players have both hands on the gun at all times. The guns shoot tracer laser lights to help with targeting in the dark. They only loosely resemble firearms to appeal to a younger crowd and a larger international audience. Some indoor equipment can be used outdoors for distances of 50-100 feet. The power of the indoor equipment is lower to avoid bouncing and reflecting off of indoor surfaces. Running and lying on the ground are discouraged.
Traditional equipment uses low power lasers or IR which dissipate under bright lights. The dark walls are intended to absorb laser and IR signals to prevent bouncing or reflecting shots. Modern laser tag equipment manufacturers have perfected the use of infrared (IR) and low power lasers for use in all lighting conditions up to 600 feet or more! Selective programming can minimize the impact of reflected and indirect signals; reducing the need for dark walls.0
Modern laser tag equipment use much louder audio output and a broad range of sounds. Our equipment even has muzzle flashes to enhance game play. You rarely see tracer lasers in newer equipment because they are only visible in very dark conditions.
One challenge all laser tag equipment shares is alerting players know when they are under fire. In paintball and airsoft it is almost unmistakable when someone is shooting in your direction. Muzzle flashes, tracer lasers, and sound plays a role. Our games operate on a hit point system. You have to shoot opponents repeatedly to make an elimination. Players hear and feel rumble feedback when they are under fire. They also receive audio queues when health is low.
Modern laser tag more closely resemble firearms and are not designed for close quarters play; no rubberized barrels, no tethers, no second hand safety triggers, etc. Our equipment relies on target sensors located on the gun or headband sensors; rather than bulky vests. The main goal is to bring first person video games to life with immersive live action games.
The scoring and system management is another key point of distinction. There are three primary models including wireless control, plug-in control, or localized control. Plug-in scoring usually involves uploading scores to a centralized computer when the guns are plugged in after a game. This works for indoor locations where equipment is returned after each game. You may also see localize systems where the score is retain and display on the guns with no centralized scoring. This is ideal for inexpensive rentals and backyard laser tag. The best option is wireless. Radio frequency scoring is the best wireless option with the ability to collect real-time scoring in real time.
Traditional equipment is designed around the need for high player throughput. The players suit up, go through a short game briefing, play a 10-15 minute battle, and then hand off the equipment to the next group. Profit is directly tied to volume, which is directly impacted by turnaround delays. Modern equipment continues to server the need for high turnover while meeting the needs of dedicated private parties that play for 90 minutes or more.
Outdoor and indoor equipment are both designed to be rugged in slightly different ways. Indoor equipment design centers on durability using high strength plastic. Outdoor equipment if often made from aluminum and is more weather resistant. Metal equipment is heavy and has a higher rate of property damage and player injury. There is a trend where outdoor tactical laser tag is using more high density plastics or hybrid plastic and metal designs for lighter, more durable equipment. These new plastic guns are well suited for indoor and outdoor use while providing the safest possible game play option.
The main distinction is that traditional laser tag equipment has long been stagnate in terms of game design and player experience. You can play the same game in any one of a hundred family entertainment centers around the country. The demand for traditional laser tag has declined to almost completely eliminate the stand-alone laser tag facility. In most cases you will find traditional laser tag as a side attraction in the back of a bowling alley or FEC. Modern laser tag is bringing back laser tag with an immersive player experience that can once again generate the demand needed to support a stand-alone business. Innovation in laser tag is racing full speed ahead!