Why isn’t laser tag absolutely massive?

That’s it. That’s my question. Why isn’t Quasar absolutely massive?
I know we’ve all played Quasar. I know you loved it. I saw you in that side room getting the very basic training from a student who’d never seen galactic combat. I know we both surreptitiously eyed up the other men, trying to work out who the threats were, which ones were ex-services, who had a tattoo. I know we’ve felt the satisfaction of bouncing the laser off a mirror and onto an enemy’s chest; I know we’ve shared that deflation as a small child shoots us in the back for the nineteenth time and we’ve had to wait for the chest pack to stop vibrating.
Afterwards, in the foyer, we heard that dot matrix printer spitting out our results and we all commented on how our thighs were all tense from the crouching and lunging we didn’t realise we’d have to do.
So with all that in mind, why isn’t it massive?
Why aren’t we playing Quasar right now?
Why, if you told someone you were in a weekend Quasar team with your mates Big Barry and LaserBalls Larry, would they think it was weird?
Why isn’t Quasar seen as a sport – a genuine sport! – the way people now play Xbox on huge screens in front of adoring crowds? Why aren’t there Quasar personalities?
And why are Quasar centres usually just grubby found on industrial estates outside Colchester or Norwich, and not giant nationally-famous electro-stadia like something out of Blade Runner?
Quasar should be absolutely massive. It is a perfect 20 minutes of tension, exercise, satisfaction and fun. Literally every team bonding exercise should be Quasar.
I really like Quasar.

I couldn’t believe it in the mid-1990s when Bath got a Quasar. I was used to living in the types of places that didn’t even get a McDonalds. Whenever I’d spot in from the school bus I’d think “we are so lucky to have a Quasar” – those exact words. You’d meet your mates down there, and you’d see the dads and their young kids. You wondered at the time what they were getting out of it and whether they actually wanted to be there. But it came at just the right time for me. It was perfect for birthday parties for that awkward 14-16 year-old age group. Get down there early, buy a Coke, play the arcades, and get that bloody laser gun on. No one wanted the party package. No one wants to eat a birthday cake made by someone at Quasar and then eat it to the jarring sound of dry ice cannons going off in the room next door. No, it was McDonald’s straight after for a burger and that weird flat orange squash then home in time for Gladiators – that was the perfect day.

I wasn’t the sportiest kid outside school. Bit of a Sunday kickabout, a bit of tennis in the summer. I would have played Quasar every single day if I could have afforded it. Quasar was my sport. And someone must have invented it, I realised one day.
It turns out it was an Australian man named Geoffrey Haselhurst, who was able to retire within a few years of it opening, because again, Quasar is brilliant and changes everyone’s life.
Geoff seems to have got a bit bored since then. He has a website where he talks about venomous snakes, and then says things like “I am certain the electron is just a spherical standing wave in space.”
I don’t know what it means, but I trust the guy who invented Quasar.

And I know; getting older means we often hanker after the things of our youth.
When I was about seven, I used to blink at Ford Capris. I just thought they were the coolest, and somehow I convinced myself that if I blinked at every Ford Capri I saw, I would grow up to be someone who owned a Ford Capri.
I’ve got one friend who just bought all the old Star Wars toys he couldn’t afford when he was a kid. I’ve got another who treated himself to an Evel Knievel bike on eBay. I’ve hankered after the new BMXs that Raleigh are making, because I don’t think I’ve ever been happier than the day I got my Raleigh Renegade.
But we can’t do too much of that. It’s weird. And it’s not as good as hankering after visiting an industrial estate outside Ipswich to run around in the dark with children.

Having your own kids is the perfect excuse. The laser game of your youth is so exciting for kids even now. And it is so exciting for you to see your kids excited by the same things that excited you. I guess for some dads is must be like introducing their kid to their first football game, or an obscure track on vinyl, or the very best episode of Fawlty Towers, and knowing it might just be the thing that stays with them.
And I’m only being half-jokey when I say that Quasar can change something.
The first time you put on that cheap plastic chest pack and test the lasers you can’t see, you and your kid are a team. You understand that instinctively. You are their protector, but they know they get to protect you, too. You have to have each others’ backs. Especially against these 15-year-olds who are probably wondering what you’re getting out of this, whether you actually want to be there.
And afterwards, when that dot matrix printer has marked you both out as absolute cosmic war heroes, you’ll go for that McDonald’s together, and you’ll have that nice flat squash, and you’ll talk about how your thighs hurt.
Quasar is ace. We should be playing more Quasar.

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