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Laser Tag Taught Me How to Hate

I'm sick of everyone pretending this sweaty mess is the universe's ultimate pastime.

Ever since I was a kid, whenever anyone asked me a question about hating something I'd politely tell them I didn't hate anything. I didn't believe in hating things. I didn't want to be involved in that kind of thinking. But that's a lie. The truth is there is one thing I hate: laser tag. I fucking hate laser tag.

As a seven year old with a scrambled Sunday school education (was it them who taught me hate was bad?) I thought if you hated something you were wishing it died, or worse, it was sent to hell. Twenty years later nothing has changed. And that fucking, horrible, awful, stressful yet somehow boring game is the only thing I'd willingly send to Hades.


Image via Flickr user littlemoresunshine

Over the past two decades this has come up frequently as I turned down birthday party invitations and glared at people handing out discount fliers at uni. But through these interactions I began to dissect and understand my blazing feelings.

First for context: in my family I am the youngest child, the youngest cousin, the smallest, the least coordinated, and have most limited lung capacity. As a result any large familiar outing that involved any kind of physical exertion or competition was unavoidably humiliating. But as you may have guessed, above all things my cousins and siblings loved running around in the dark shooting guns at each other in rooms that smelt like underboob sweat.

Image via Flickr user USAG- Humphreys

These afternoons were traumatic, but don't get too excited or roll your eyes. I know my pre teen trauma seems like an open explanation for my disdain, but I assure you this was just the beginning. Having the people I loved openly mock me wasn't super pleasant, but being the youngest it wasn't unfamiliar. I could have ruled those afternoons and still fucking hate that bacne plagued excuse for a sport. The bullying just gave me an excuse that I'd give to my mum when I wanted to stay home and watch Angry Beavers.

I hated it just as much when surrounded by friends. I never understood how my alkalized water drinking mates could get so psyched to shoot guns on a damp off-brand Tron set. But despite my insistence that those places are 100 percent a holiday camp for unseen fungal spores looking to make a new life in your respiratory tract, people continued to take part.


Image via Flickr user heipei

If I'm as generous as humanly possible, I'd concede that some of these establishments look pretty cool if you block out all the screaming idiots. But if I wanted to get sweaty under backlights I'd got to a rave. Actually, the fact all those lights and production design have been spent on a venue that doesn't host raves is criminal. There you go, as I write this I thought of another reason I hate these places. Good for me.

The reality is, marginally good light design aside, if you'd never heard of one of these places and I described them to you, you would be horrified. They are at their core dark rooms, full of migraine inducing visuals, where people run around breathing stale air and act out mastabatory military fantasies.

Image via Flickr user Kasey-Samuel Adams

Why is paintball seen as the domain of dorky guys with discount coupon books, but laser tag somehow managed to be seen as cool? To all the people organising alternative, hipster-centric adult laser tag parties, please don't kid yourself. The only difference between a paintball weirdo and a laser tag weirdo is whether you have Barb Wire or GI Jane in your Netflix queue.

Ignoring health and safety issues, this is the stuff of actual nightmares. It would be terrifying if it wasn't so boring. And above everything else, that's what I can't deal with, that's what I can't forgive. No one wants to admit how fucking boring laser tag is. How can you invent something with that many guns and flashing lights and it be such a snoozefest? If you feel compelled to run around in the dark being chased be near strangers, reply to a Craigslist personals ad. At least there might be a free meal in that.

Image via Flickr user USAG- Humphreys

All these reasons have created the person I am today, one wholly committed to opening the eyes of others to how shitty laser tag is. It might seem like a small pointless goal in the face of a planet stocked with high-minded resolutions, but I stick by it. It might take another 20 years to convince another human that laser tag is the worst, but I'm sticking to my cause. And maybe, maybe, I'll realise my childhood fantasy of sending this dumb birthday party cast off to hell.

Lede image via Flickr user Paymentmax Processing

Follow Wendy on Twitter: @Wendywends