My son and his girlfriend came in from out of state to spend the weekend with us because that was their birthday gift to me and because we may not see them again for a very long time. The job market out west has not been friendly to them, so in order to develop some level of financial security, they may be moving back east. My son has been stuck in a low paying job and his girlfriend has been working in the film industry, which is always unreliable, intermittent work. It's been fun watching TV shows she has worked on and only having them living a few hours away, but I understand that they've got to pay the bills.
Anyway, we played something like six games of laser tag together. I haven't played in a few years, but I used to be really good at it. I figured I'd still be good at it. While taking a seat in the briefing room, a cluster of young boys taunted us, yelling things like, "You're going down!"
We just smirked and exchanged knowing glances. Kids always think that adults suck at laser tag. Not true. So I thought.
This laser tag location has a bridge you must cross with a spinning tunnel around it. With my motion sickness, that bridge is my nemesis. The kids took off to the spinning room and I didn't even bother to follow. I just grabbed a commander and asked if I could use the back door. Having been there before, I was very familiar with the back door, as I had to take it after nearly flipping over the railing of the bridge from being so dizzy.
Once my son and his girlfriend went through the tunnel, they too opted for the back door. Although, in their case, I think it was more a matter of them not being interested in being surround by screaming kids. We just wanted to get down to business and kick laser butt.
About half-way through the first game, I realized that everyone else had a visible laser point, and I did not. I also realized that I was getting hit a lot more than I was hitting other people. I came to the conclusion that my gun was broken, so I approached a commander and asked him to check my gun. He said I was holding it incorrectly. While one hand was on the trigger, the other hand had to cover a specific spot on the barrel because the gun was controlled by a heat sensor. I knew that, because they had gone over it in the briefing room, however my hand was always just off the mark. (I have small hands.) As soon as I covered the right spot on the barrel and found someone to shoot, the game was over.
My scores were laughable. I placed second to last over all. However, my son's girlfriend placed second to first over all, so our team still won and "we" put those little taunters in their place.
I managed to screw up the second game as well, and continued to make stupid mistakes that only convinced me that I have lost a huge chunk of my brain power to an early onset of senility. For instance, I stood in the blue team's fort shooting its crystals for a long time wondering why I kept missing, only to discover that I was on the blue team. You can't capture your own fort.
After that, I decided to stick with my kids since they seemed to know what heck was going on, and my score steadily improved as I learned a little bit more about how to play the game the right way. This is all stuff I used to know, but if you don't use it, you lose it.
In one game this father was leading this tiny little girl around, trying to teach her how to play. She was adorable, and probably only about four-years-old. I watched from the tower as they hid behind a corner and tried to stay under cover while shooting people on the other teams. She kept missing, because she just didn't have both the small and large motor skills yet to do the job, but I admired her father for being so patient and enthusiastic. So, I came down from the tower where I had been sniping people left and right, and I walked slowly right around the corner where I knew the girl and her dad were hiding. As soon as she started shooting me, I stepped into her laser beam so that she could have the pleasure of blacking out my vest. Then I gave her the thumbs up and said, "Good job!"
Her dad got really excited. That was probably the highlight of their day.
Despite trying to stay with the people I came with, we often got separated. At one point I was walking up a ramp and saw my son in a tower at the top of the ramp. I hurried up toward him, and his girlfriend spotted him while coming down a ramp. She too hurried to get to his location and then she tripped and fell into me as we collided in the intersection. It was funny.
Shortly after that, this hoard of little boys on an opposing team came up the ramp and surrounded us, shooting us over and over. They wouldn't let us out of their trap, so we had to gently, but firmly push our way through in opposite directions. That was a tactic we had never experienced before. If you ever play laser tag, watch out for the little boys' birthday parties. They know how to team up. Although, I suspect the boys' baseball team that came in when we left probably knew even more about teamwork.
Part of the game is to shoot the crystals in the opposing teams' forts, and each team had two forts that were hidden in the maze. Newbies don't know that they should put at least four people in the position of guarding their own team's forts. But, the game can be kind of boring for the guards, because they can't enjoy the maze, and they have to wait for people to come to them if they want any action. Anyway, this one kid grabbed me and ordered me to help him guard the fort. I did for a couple of minutes, but I was there to hang out with my own kids, so I ditched him. He was pissed. He grabbed me at the end of the game in a total panic yelling, "You guys didn't help guard the forts. We were getting swarmed!"
I said, "Relax. I'm sure we still won."
We did. In fact, the team my son, his girlfriend and I were on won every game. By our last game, we got so good that our score was double that of the yellow team, and the red team did not make a single point.
I did pretty well for someone who was having hot flashes and night sweats throughout the games. Apparently, the darkness of the game room messed with my hormones, tricking them into thinking that it was night time.
It wasn't until the fourth game that I figured out that the company had changed one of the strategies in the game. I used to be able to shoot and opponent's fort crystals once, run away to avoid getting tagged back, then when the light explosion ended, go back in and tag the fort again. That was a way to rack up points. However, they changed it so that the fort crystals tracked which players already tagged them, so we could only tag each opposing fort once. So, I used the strategy of tagging the four forts first before the other teams realized that they had to guard them, and then I sniped from the towers. It was funny watching the people I was hitting who were on the ground floor running around trying to figure out who kept shooting them. The newbies never thought to look up, but the birthday boys had played enough games that they knew to come up the ramps in mass and swarm me in my tower, so I had to keep moving from one tower to the next.
I think the funnest part of the game happened in the last few minutes of my final round. This one boy who was probably about ten years old started stalking me. Since I am well versed in the art of being stalked, I always know if someone's got their sights on me. I also was very familiar with the timing of our tag outages. When you tag someone, his vest blacks out for a few seconds, and he can't shoot anyone. He's out of the game. Then the lights on the vest come back on and he can rejoin the game. So, the kid would sneak up behind me, I'd whip around and nail him before he could shoot me, his vest would black out, and he'd run and hide. I'd keep walking up and down ramps, turning corners, trying to elude him, and as soon as he came back into the game, he'd run up from behind me to try to shoot me again. I had his timing in my head, so all I had to do was turn around and shoot, and he'd be right there behind me like a sitting duck.
He was having a lot of fun with it and seemed genuinely amazed at how psychic I seemed to be. The more I shot him, she more intent he became about shooting me. I was the prize. If he could just sneak up behind me and shoot me once, he would have been talking about it for days to come. I finally decided to let him shoot me, but before he did, the game ended, so I told him, "You were so close. Nice try."
He was laughing, so even though he didn't meet his goal, he had a good time trying.
My daughter had to be at an on-the-job training on a Saturday, so she missed out, but I may take her on another day. I've got to play again before all these game rules and strategies slip from my memory.