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Laser Tag and the dynamics of peace

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

Laser Tag and the dynamics of peace

Andrew Ryan

Today I played my second ever game of Laser Tag. I have a crazy English friend who loves it, and I find it to be the most enjoyable form of exercise I have ever experienced. It stretches your muscles, gets your heart pumping, encourages controlled breathing… it’s like yoga crossed with sex, with the competitive aspect of a battle thrown in to get you REALLY excited.

I was picked up by my friend Janita, her friend Harris, his Danish girlfriend, Emma, and his friend Andrew. We drove north west of the city for about half an hour, to an area that seemed quite similar to Kenwick. The massive converted warehouses surrounding us seemed abandoned and run down… I made sure I hid my camera properly under some blankets on the back seat.

The first fifteen minute game was chaos. There were the five of us, plus two local teenage boys, four kids under twelve, and their two supervisors. My group were exploring the arena for the first time, which was designed to resemble the interior of luna park if it was in a spaceship- and I at least was paying no attention to the vantage points, while the small children hid in their favourite nooks like little gremlins, and the teenagers stalked quietly around the top level. I was too annoyed by the presence of children and too stimulated by the lasers shining through smoke machine expulsions to properly asses my surroundings. I forgot to be stealth, and started wandering around aimlessly, bumping into people, getting shot, and swearing every time.

After about ten minutes, I finally started to focus, found my own corners to sneak into, walking on my knees for a bit, then jumping up and sprinting onto a platform to shoot the shit out of anyone else up there. Janita always seemed to pop up when I went on my kamikaze missions, and we would kill each other before we realised who it was, and then we’d be all “EEEEE SORRY, SHOOT ME TO MAKE IT EVEN, NO NO SHOOT ME I’VE ALREADY SHOT YOU” like the little girls we are. It happened at least four times before we decided to call a truce and stay close to each other, but by that point, the game was over.

Round two, a half hour game, the children and the two adults had left, so it was a free for all against the teenage boys. I had an inkling that something wasn’t quite right with these two- one of the boys, let’s call him “Yoda”, was way ahead of everyone in the last game. He barely got hit, and shot the shit out of everyone. How was this possible? Very quickly into this second game we realised he was cheating. BASTARD. He was hiding in the sectioned off bit, like a sniper at the top of a tower, where he wasn’t ALLOWED TO BE, picking us off one by one. That dirty mother fucker.

Harris, a confident-on-the-verge-of-cocky city bartender, decided to take matters into his own hands- he put his hoodie over his laser pack, donned a black snowboarding mask, and effectively became invisible, with intent to get Yoda back. The rest of us didn’t realise this was going on- Harris was acting as lone wolf, not telling anyone the plan until we all started yelling at him for being a cheater. A few hand signals later, we figured it out, and no one shot at Harris, despite the fact that he was being very naughty and climbing along the walls, perching precariously on the averagely constructed set, eyes wide and neck sweating. Despite his efforts, he performed pretty terribly. It would appear that running off on your own and hiding does stop you from getting shot at, but it also decreases your ability to shoot at others.

But that fucking Yoda bastard killed it, and us, again. It seemed impossible to coax him out, until Janita and I fucked him up by sneaking to his little crouching spot and shooting him over and over until he jumped out and ran to the lower, legal area with more spot to wait out the reactivation of his pack. At the end of the game, Yoda was still the winner, but somehow I was the most accurate shooter. TAKE THAT BITCH.

All of this tactical game play wore me out. By the time that game finished, I was completely exhausted, and scared myself a little at the rate I was assessing the strengths and weaknesses of these people I considered friends, if not friendly acquaintances. It is not in my nature to think in such a way, although in evolutionary terms, it really should be. Through generations of peace lovers having babies together, that instinctual gonna-fight-this-guy-to-the-best-of-my-ability urge has gone, and I can’t stand the idea of attacking someone. I can barely stand the idea of defending myself. I’d just rather not be involved with real conflict at all.

These thought processes have inspired me to find out more about war and battle tactics, and to explore how they are used in a social way between humans. I don’t have enough room this week, so stay tuned for more on that topic in the coming weeks, and I will teach you all how to be the most charming, successful friend on the planet, without the need for a gun!