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|Founded||Manchester, England (1989)|
|Headquarters||Mississauga, Ontario, Canada|
|Slogan||"You don't just play the game; You're in it!" "Where work meets play"|
Laser Quest is the name of a Canadian/English indoor lasertag game using infrared (IR) hand-held units and vests, owned by Albert Paz. It is also the name of the company which operates each game centre. There are over 140 Laser Quest centres worldwide, including ones in Canada, the United States, the UK, France, Portugal, Singapore, Costa Rica, Thailand, South Africa, and the Netherlands. Laser Quest's oldest centre is located in Stourbridge, West Midlands, England.
Overview of the game of Laser Quest
The player's goal in Laser Quest is to tag their opponents as many times as possible, while the player avoids being tagged. The players are equipped with an infrared/laser hand held unit and a pack with infrared sensors. Players start the game in a large multi-level maze-like arena filled with ramps, catwalks and windows. In Laser Quest centres, the playing arenas are filled with theatrical fog and black light, strobes and UV-reactive painted surfaces. While play can seem chaotic, there are rules that are enforced. Players recite a "Player's Code" in the Briefing Room, where they go to learn how to play the game. The Player's Code includes a vow not to run, climb, jump, sit, kneel, lie down, cover any sensors, make physical contact with other players, use offensive language, and to 'play fair, play smart, and give it my all!'. At least one Employee or "Marshal" is present in the arena at all times, to ensure fair and safe game play and to make sure people enjoy their time.
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Every LQ centre is equipped with approximately 30 packs, also called vests or ponchos. This number varies with busier arenas having more packs to accommodate larger crowds. The pack is made of a thick canvas-type material that hangs over the shoulders. When laid out flat on a table the vest forms a diamond shape. Sensors placed on various parts of the vest covering the chest, the back, and each shoulder. "There are additional sensors housed within the hand-held 'laser' unit located at the front, and both sides of the laser."
The infrared sensors are attached to printed circuit boards, which include red and green LEDs that light up when the pack is active. Each PCB is housed in a hard plastic cover. Part of each cover is made from clear plastic to allow the IR beams to reach the sensors.
Inside the laser shell is the PCB with sensors and lights, a speaker to indicate the status of the pack, a trigger, and an LCD to display the status of the pack to the player. The IR unit is what emits the visible laser the eye sees and the invisible IR beam which "tags" the opponent's packs.
The laser has a display in the rear. When a player is tagged, it displays the codename of the tagger and the location of the tag. It also occasionally displays the player's current ranking as the game progresses.
Laser Quest players gain points by tagging other players or by tagging the opposing team's base. They lose points when they are tagged by other people, or when they are caught in a trap. The number of points lost depends on where the player hit and game settings. The scale for a typical game is as follows:
- Laser: 3 points
- Shoulders: 3 points
- Back: 4 points
- Front: 5 points
Players always gain more points for making a tag than they lose for being tagged. In a standardized game, a player gains ten points when tagging another, and loses points corresponding to the above scale when they are tagged themselves.
Players may also be awarded bonus points based on their accuracy—usually 10 points for every 1% hit rate. In other words, if a player achieved a hit rate of 10%, he or she would be awarded 100 bonus points. In a standard 'Solo' game, this bonus is limited to a maximum of 100 points, far less than the theoretical maximum of 1000 points awarded to a 100% accuracy. This prevents players tagging one person with their first tag and then hiding for the rest of the game. As it is possible to tag multiple players with one tag, it is possible for a player's accuracy ratio to exceed 100%.
In team games, the team score is the sum of all similarly-colored players' individual scores.
The hardware and software used limit what types of games a Laser Quest center can hold. Up to four different groups of settings can be created; it is normal for everyone on a team to have the same settings, though this is not required. When giving packs within a team different settings, the packs will not be visibly different in-game, with the exception of 'sentinel' packs that have the ability to give lives and ammunition to teammates. These packs are identified by an alternate light pattern on the front and back sensor.
The settings which can be altered are:
|Available settings||options||standard game settings|
|Game type||All-on-all, 2-team, 3-team||All-on-all|
|Game time (minutes)||1 to 99||15|
|Number of lives||1 to 99 or unlimited||unlimited|
|Number of shots||1 to 9999 or unlimited||unlimited|
|Downtime (seconds)||1 to 99||2-5|
|Replenisher values for lives and shots||off|
|Sentinel values for lives and shots||off|
The number of shots used can be quite large; in certain game types, players routinely fire 3000+ shots. This will give an accuracy rate of perhaps 5%. This seemingly low amount is a result of constant firing and dodging, as players are not directly penalized for missed shots. The average is 6% ratio of accuracy.
Downtime is defined as the period of time after a player is tagged that they remain deactivated. After the downtime has expired, the de-activated player's pack will re-energise and they are able to play as before.
Although all players are required to recite a code of conduct before play, some may still cheat. One of the main ways in which players cheat is by taking duct tape into the arena and placing it over the sensors. Although duct tape does not completely stop the sensor from getting tagged, it does make the play difficult. Most cheating is stopped by the marshal instantly and will have the player ejected from the game for that type of behaviour. Laser pointers do not work as the hit is determined by the IR beam and not the laser beam. Another way is what players call 'Spocking', when a player makes a 'V' shape with their hand and blocks the sensor on the end of the laser. Another way is covering the front sensor with their laser and hiding in a corner. Also, while not actually cheating in the traditional sense, players sometimes run or kneel, and may occasionally 'bowl over' another player while trying to escape.
North America Challenge
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Laser Quest holds a corporate tournament called the North America Challenge, or NAC. To qualify for NAC, members from a particular centre hold a series of try-outs. The top nine players, plus one potential alternate, then go to one of three regional tournaments held in June of each year. The top teams from each of these regional tournaments will then proceed to the continental tournament, typically held in September. The top teams from each regional tournaments compete in the national event to determine the best team in Laser Quest.
Beginning in 1999, and continuing until 2007, the top five teams from each of the four North American regions advanced. Following a series of centre closures, and new centres opening, regional lines were redrawn and three regions formed.
Changed again in 2010, each centre did not have a tryout, and teams were able to form their own homegrown teams, with 8 starters, and 1 extra for an alternate.
NAC Champions and Runners Up
(ELC) European LaserQuest Championship
This 9-man constructed team tournament consists of players from UK, France and Holland (Starting 2010 USA and Canada will join as well). The tournament is held annually, with the location alternating amongst participating countries. 2007 championships were held in Longwell Green, Bristol the cup final was won by Sorry Team, with LQ Legends winning the plate finals. The 2006 cup finals were won by LQ Legends with Badgers winning the plate final held in Eindhoven, Netherlands. The 2005 event was played in Reims, France. In 2010 the ELC was held at Bournemouth LQ the winning team was Tribe Called Quest in 2nd place was France. With Bournemouth A winning the plate 7 teams participated.
In 2013 the ELC was held at Coventry Laser Quest on 19–20 October. 13 teams from the UK and France played. The winning team was Mixteam from France and in 2nd place was Phoenix. The Good-looking TCQ won the plate final.
The 2014 event was held in Eindhoven, Holland on 11–12 October. A total of 15 teams participated, with players from Holland, France and the UK. The cup was won by Sorry Team, with Phoenix in 2nd place and Roxxage Team in 3rd place. Team No Energy from Holland won the plate final.