In the last decade, with the introduction of cheaper hardware and open source programming, tactical laser tag has started to gain steam and is catching up to mainstays airsoft and paintball. Tactical laser tag offers a bridge between the military simulation (milsim) games and the old-school free-for-all laser tag arenas of the past.
When people think of laser tag, they often conjure up the images of black-lit arenas with techno music being piped in to create a multi-sensory environment which pulls you out of the present and propels you into a technicolor space battle. However, as the typical laser tag demographic has grown up playing multiplayer online games featuring a more mission-oriented and team-based playing style, as well as a more modern warfare, a deeper sense of gameplay is quickly overtaking the free-for-all laser tag arenas typically dotting larger cityscapes.
For these online videogame players, often associated with games like Call of Duty, Halo, and Battlefield, the barrier of entry is simply too high for airsoft and paintball. It’s not an easy task for a new player to find themselves a group to join in addition to purchasing possibly hundreds of dollars of equipment. Because those games are so intense, or maintain an environment meant to simulate true combat, it’s difficult for single players, or those who are not so ‘hardcore’, to imagine just dropping in on games on a Friday or Saturday.
This is where tactical laser tag has been able to bridge that gap between traditional laser tag and milsim. With a focus on gameplay and customization, tactical laser tag allows gamers to play a team-based game not requiring a significant investment, a large group, or the pain attributed to paintball and airsoft.
That pain association is another issue that airsoft and paintball has had in attracting more female players to the game. Tactical laser tag is completely painless and no heavy facemask is required, which opens up tactical gameplay to those who may have been on the fence for Paintball and Airsoft.
The customization and flexibility of tactical laser tag is also an easy selling point. Because the guns, or ‘taggers’, run off of software, they can be easily programmed to simulate many different weapons and introduce many of the same concepts in first-person shooter video games. For example, at the touch of a button, a player can switch from a sniper rifle to a shotgun when in close quarters. That player can then also heal a teammate, or dole out ammo when a resupply is needed. Again, no special equipment needed as the functionality is already in the software.
Because it’s a growing field, tactical laser tag operators are springing up almost overnight all across the country. One of the more notable established operators is Fireball Mountain in Wrightstown, NJ, which features a massive outdoor playing field complete with multi-level buildings and various bunkers spread throughout acres of tree-covered hills.
Our own Thunderhead Tactical Laser Tag outdoor field is located in San Antonio, TX and features adults only (18+ yrs) with multiple game modes, player classes, gamertag setup, and in-game weapon selection.
Tactical laser tag is a quickly growing segment of the gaming community and looks to be a big player in the coming years. If you live in a medium to large sized city and don’t have tactical laser tag yet, expect very soon to be participating in this blood-pumping run and gun team game in the near future.