You Must be This Tall To Ride...
There’s an operations question that often gets overlooked by developers even though they think of the question when they are shopping for equipment but don’t give it much thought until confronted by a concerned parent. How old and tall do you need to be to play laser tag?
Laser Tag is often sold on the idea that anyone from 7-77 can enjoy laser tag but that’s just a catchy slogan, right? Is 7 really a cutoff point for younger players? Let’s look deeper into the question and look at laser tag equipment to see what is recommended.
Laser Tag, in the past, was designed to be a game for anyone old enough to enjoy it as a potential sport. Competitive play was almost always encouraged by operators but somewhere in the late 90’s the industry took an abrupt turn to focus more on the children’s birthday market.
The problem was that much of the older equipment was designed with teenagers or young teens in mind and the packs were very uncomfortable to smaller and younger players. Fast forward to today where many of the suppliers have taken into account the size difference between players and made changes to accommodate a broader spectrum of customers.
Zone Laser Tag has taken the lead on this trend as when it first introduced the Nexus Laser Tag and RIFT Blaster systems, (and later our Helios systems) which capitalized on two aspects of pack design. First, the jacket style vest is highly desirable and has been a major reason for many operators purchasing Zone equipment. The vests go on easy and can be adjusted to fit people of nearly any body type.
While we weren’t the first to sell equipment designed as a jacket, we did make the equipment the lightest on the market, utilizing polycarbonate plastics and a breathable mesh material weighing in at a mere 5.4 pounds.
So weight isn’t an issue for smaller players, but what about height? How tall do you have to be to play laser tag? A general rule of thumb used to be 42 inches tall was a requirement for laser tag players. This was mainly due to children dropping the phaser on the ground, often times damaging the equipment. This especially happened when children were putting on and taking off their laser tag vests before and after games.
Once again, Zone steps in to make the equipment a non-issue for smaller players. On each Helios laser tag vest, is an elastic chord attached to the back of the phaser that can be designed to never be unclipped. It keeps the phaser from hitting the ground, and combined with the new polycarbonate plastics, makes the phasers virtually indestructible. Another way to avoid possible phaser damage is to have your vesting room equipped with padded carpeting keep your equipment safe.
So if the equipment isn’t an issue with younger players, then what else should determine whether or not a child is too young to play? Believe it or not, your arena could be an issue. Young children, may put on a brave face for mom and their siblings but when it’s time to go into a dark black-lit room with screaming kids, they may lose their cool. This can totally be avoided though.
Often times before a parent introduces their kids to the world of laser tag, they will ask the person manning the sales counter if their child is too young or small to play. Before just turning away a sale, there are a few things you can do to make all parties feel comfortable with the final decision to allow the child to play or not.
First, if you have an observation deck or area, take the child to it so they can see what is going on inside the arena. If they completely freak out, then allowing the child to go into your game may be a bad idea. Often times once the parent and/or child see what is going on inside the arena, they will let you know if they think it’s a good idea or not to continue with the sale.
If you don’t have an observation deck, you could allow a manager or game marshal to escort the child and parent into the arena to watch an existing game going on.
Next, if the child is comfortable and excited to play, bring out a pack and put it on the child. If the pack is too big or uncomfortable, then obviously, don’t proceed with the sale. If the pack fits fine, show the child how to work the equipment and how to tag the blinking lights on a vest or arena target.
If they can grasp the concept of the game and feel comfortable moving forward, then make your final decision. You could always stipulate that the parent play too, as added security for the child.
In the end, it’s all about fun and a terrified or injured child is no way to introduce new players to the game. You owe it to your customers to make sure they are having fun and that your equipment goes undamaged for the next group of excited players.