Laser Tag, Wall Sports Arena by Ted Kerwin

Much like every CAB event, no matter how extravagant or purely dull it may sound, you never know what you might get. When I heard that the highly-intense and competitive pastime of laser tag was coming to UNC Charlotte, I was of course skeptical at first. I questioned who might show up, what the event might entail and to what lengths the Campus Activities Board would go to offer students a fun-filled Saturday night. Those questions reeled in my mind as I made my way to the Popp Martin Student Union on a rather windy night on Feb. 25th, 2017.

As I’ve heard countless times by a majority of students who attend CAB events, the number one thing that typically elevates the experience from a mundane Saturday night to one of the best nights of your life is having a few friends by your side. Unfortunately for me, as I strolled into the Union that night, my sides were scarce of any company. That, however, didn’t stop me from enjoying an intriguing evening of laser tag.

Quickly latching onto a group of students as our game of laser tag was set to begun, I mingled meagerly as we awaited the coveted gates of the labyrinth to open. Set to a rather strict time slot — 12 players entering, with a mere 20 minutes to play — I eagerly awaited to see what extravagant battleground might lay beyond the doors.

As I mentioned before, with every CAB event, no matter how highly-anticipated it may look, you never know what you might get. Dubbed the “Laser Tag Labyrinth,” I had imagined in my mind a cornucopia of towering walls, a multi-layered realm of pitch-black and strobe light, a maze of challenges and triumphs. What I got, however, was far more lackluster. While the room breathed with space, and was successfully engulfed in a thick layer of darkness as to add to the atmosphere, the word “labyrinth” was quickly degraded to a cheap playground of little suspense or variety.

Acquiring our weaponry from a table at the rear of the room, I observed my laser gun as the staff relayed the rules of the game. A rather elegant mix between the articulation of a paintball gun, and the low-end detail of a dollar-store toy, I found that the weapon, the one thing that stood between life and death in this game, was one of the more appealing elements that I picked up from the experience. Loading my arsenal of digital ammo and securing myself behind a wooden crate, I counted down as the battle was set to start.

With the first round of the game giving way to a fierce battle as the two sides blasted their enemies from across the room, the true battle was found in the final round, as the room echoed with a single announcement: “Every man for himself!” A free-for-all of digital firefights ignited as players ran around the room, sneaking up on foes and backstabbing former allies. Keeping to my own for the majority of the game, as I struggled to take out as many players as I could before being countlessly terminated, the game managed to keep me on my toes for a matter of minutes before the clock ran out.

While CAB’s latest on-campus event might not have been entirely what I pictured, Laser Tag Labyrinth is surely more enjoyable if you have a good friend or two by your side. While its atmosphere may have lacked a layer of excitement and suspense, the event did offer students a decent break from their academic life in order to bask in some good-old-fashioned shoot-em-up fun.

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