Tactical Laser Tag: Aggieland War Games

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Andrew Dessler and his wife, Susan, opened Aggieland War Games with the intent of creating an environment that was safe, family-friendly, and more realistic than typical laser tag. The goal of tactical laser tag isn’t always total domination. Instead, teams must work together to complete different missions during their hour of gameplay.

By: Shelbi LeMeilleur

Team InsiteHeart pumping. Adrenaline rushing. Sweat dripping. I warily peek around each twist and turn, hoping that my teammates and I can make it across the arena unnoticed. We watch each other’s backs and slowly creep towards the rear of the room where the domination cube sits. With only 30 seconds left on the Blue Team’s timer, my teammates and I do everything we can to gain control of the cube. Just before we can reach it, the laser sensor on my head shouts “Medic! Medic! Man down, man down!” for the umpteenth time.

My teammates open fire on our rivals to no avail. Unfortunately, the timer continues to countdown before we can respawn and capture the cube. The Blue Team wins yet another round, but my Red teammates and I regroup, hoping to conquer the next mission. As frustrating as it is to lose to your coworkers and family members, my team and I had to learn to work together, and quickly, through a non-traditional team-building experience: tactical laser tag.

Andrew Dessler and his wife, Susan, opened Aggieland War Games with the intent of creating an environment that was safe, family-friendly, and more realistic than typical laser tag. The goal of tactical laser tag isn’t always total domination. Instead, teams must work together to complete different missions during their hour of gameplay.

“A team that doesn’t work together is going to get crushed,” Dessler says. “A team that does work together is going to do really well. The most exciting thing for me, as an owner, is when I see two teams, both working together. Those are really exciting games. I mean, I know it sounds kind of silly, but you watch and you think ‘Wow, this is a really great game.’ It’s sort of going back and forth and people are really working together, and people are having fun.”

In an hour of gameplay, our group was able to play eight rounds of the missions designed by Dessler and his wife. Each one requires a different strategy and lots of communication. After the first few missions, the Red Team quickly learned our strengths and weaknesses. We knew who our key offensive and defensive players were. From there, we were able to adapt our strategy based on the type of mission we played.

Team InsiteThe missions we played ranged from total domination, a twist on traditional laser tag, to bomb espionage, where the goal is to find the “bomb” and place it as close to your enemy’s base as possible. Some missions were harder than others, but each presented a unique challenge. My personal favorite? VIP. In that mission, each team picks a VIP to be hunted by the opposite team. So, not only do you have to kill the opposite team’s VIP, but you have to protect yours as well. I was the lucky one to be chosen for the Red Team VIP. I got to crawl and hide everywhere while two of my teammates provided constant coverage and protection. Meanwhile, the other two teammates searched for the Blue VIP. I’m proud to say my teammates protected me to the bitter end and we won that round.

When creating a new mission, Dessler says their biggest concerns are making it strategically interesting, but more importantly, safe. “We designed the games to make sure that minimizes the chance that someone will get hurt in a game,” he says. “Safety is very important to us.” He wasn’t joking. Every group that plays must sit through a brief safety informational before gameplay. The video shows the equipment and safety basics and then warns that rule-breakers can, and will, get “penalty killed.” We did everything in our power to avoid that tragic fate.

Even the equipment differs from the norm. “I think the equipment we use is definitely more realistic,” Dessler explains. “It’s more, military, and I like its programmability. We can change all sorts of aspects to the game.” One of the changes includes the capability to turn on friendly fire, which is a key point in the Hunger Games-inspired mission.

Each player is equipped with a military-style gun. Players have to look through a red dot scope in order to aim and shoot at other players. In addition, each player wears three laser sensors on their head. “People like realism,” Dessler continues. “It doesn’t have bulky vests. I’ve never enjoyed wearing vests. They’re hot, they’re kind of bulky. For what we do…it’s more of a skill game with these weapons, because you hit small targets.”

In the end, the Blue Team clobbered us, winning six rounds to our lousy two. Their strategy? Hiding in inconspicuous places and using props. Next time, Red Team is going to get our revenge, so watch your backs, Blue Team.

Aggieland War Games welcomes walk-ins, groups, or private parties. Anyone older than nine can participate in open play. Party packages are available for 7 to 8 year olds. All players must fill out a waiver online. For more information, visit www.aggielandwargames.com.