Can Laser Tag Leagues Work?
by Jason Bock
I love playing laser tag. Some people think I'm actually pretty good at it. I have played in several laser tag leagues at several centers. I know of many centers that have put together leagues.
Only one time did the league stay together with enough players to actually finish the league! They are the biggest wasters of your time imaginable. And they will likely net you a big fat zero.
The problem is this: you probably only have a few really good players to go around. They will dominate. Some of the other people who come to play will simply get discouraged and leave. Even with a draft league (which works better), your laser tag league will likely not be self sustaining.
What if you want to do something for your regular players to keep them away from birthday parties?
The smart marketer will run miniature laser tag tournaments instead of leagues. Do different themes each week on an off day to keep the interest level up.
Many centers do this and call it member's night, but you can do a few things to keep the interest up.
First, offer prizes and have a point system. A ladder or point system will help keep top players interested. Prizes for play don't have to be big, but they should hold some value. If laser tag tournament prizes are collectible in some way, that would be ideal.
Here are some ideas you may be able to make collectible so they will go together. Photon used to offer alpha, gamma and mega warrior pins to players who broke certain point totals in tournament or league play. Take this a step further. You could develop your own pins or a custom ID card for players. Don't stop at 3 levels, make 10 or 12 variations. Go to a renaissance festival and find a craftsperson who can make custom pins, rings or other trinkets. Many will be available cheaply, especially if you explain your purpose.
Try lots of different game formats and tournament formats. Play every person for themself, draft teams, make your own teams, etc. Use the different LASERTRON modes. Use different game setups as your software will allow.
Run your tournaments inexpensively on an off night. Close to public business during these mini-tournaments (but let anybody that wants to come in). Reward unique things, like most improved, youngest player, etc.
Offer monthly or bi-monthly prizes. Base these prizes on participation, not scores (or at least partially on participation). You can make the prizes free game play - but only for more mini tournaments.
Give your players lots of games for the price (as long as you're not giving up full price business!). Consider running shorter games to get more competition or to allow for round-robin formats. Don't run just single or double elimination tournaments unless you have a huge crowd. That will dissuade some less-skilled players from participating.
Keep the laser tag atmosphere fun, not competitive. Try and structure tournaments so that every player has a chance to win something. If you have a couple of players who are simply far better than the other players, let them be mercenaries for some of your events. The teams can bid play money to hire them for each game. Teams receive play money based on the scoring differential. The team and/or mercenary with the most money at the end of the night wins the prize.
Find an employee or a regular player with interest in organized play to run things and put it together each week (or every other week). Reward him or her with special recognition. Lay out your expectations for the tournaments and demand that they be organized, fair and enjoyable for a majority of players.
Watch this web site for news of the LASERTRON world championship tournament. We'll be helping LASERTRON operators build a tournament system that's exciting for players and works for laser tag owners.