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Is there a lazer tag place nearby?

May 2011

Does anyone know of a laser-tag place around here? My son has told me he would LOVE more than anything to have a laser tag party for his upcoming 10th birthday, but I don't seem to find one in a reasonable distance to our home (in Oakland) when I look on line. Any ideas? Karen


My son had a birthday party at Q-zar in Concord. Boy heaven (though you'll need aspirin). Parents can carpool and you can hang out in the Starbucks down the street. Ann
We've done 3 birthday parties at Q-zar in Walnut Creek. It's worked really well. We don't have much money, so I never did an official party there, which is expensive. Instead, we just invited 4-5 kids and bought them each a 3 hour pass. They disappear inside, played about a zillion games of laser tag, and came out occasionally for a drink of water. They play against whoever comes, which worked out fine -- that way they can all be on one team. They don't let you bring in food as I recall, so we just fed them before hand, and then went home for cake. My husband and I sat at the one table they have and graded papers (we're teachers). Easy! laser lover
Our 13 year old son had his birthday party at Qzar in Concord. That is a ways for you, but we were happy with it. --Zap!

Laser Tag Birthday Party for 11 year old

Feb 2011

My son has his heart set on a laser tag party for his 11th birthday. He really wants to do it outdoors with trees. Has anyone done this? Any recommendations? Thanks in advance. Party Planner


I only know of indoor laser tag - there is a Q-Zar in Concord. If they want paintball, I can recommend Paintball Jungle in American Canyon - visit their website kathy

Son's day camp is planning a laser tag outing

July 1999

My 10 year old son's summer day camp is planning an outing to a laser tag facility & I was wondering if other parents have problems with this activity. I've called the facility & was told that the object of laser tag is to "zap" members of an opposing team. Each team member wears a vest, carries a "phaser" (essentially a laser gun) & is given 6 "lives." When their vest registers "hits" they loose a life. When they have lost all 6 lives they must be "recharged." "Techno" music is played, there are obstacles to hide behind & the children reportedly love it! Am I being too fussy when I object to promoting an activity that, I believe, teaches our youth to fantasize about shooting one another? What do other parents think?


Have you played it yourself? Try it! It's fun! My boys persuaded me to play laser tag at Santa Cruz Boardwalk a while back. I had a great time, though I was a rotten teammate because of my poor middle-aged reflexes. Thanks to me, my family got creamed by a couple of 3rd graders teamed up with two giggling teenage girls in platform sandals. Dave Barry (humor columnist for the Miami Herald) wrote a hilarious account of playing laser tag with his teenage son. It's in "Dave Barry is from Mars and Venus" (highly recommended if you like that sort of thing.)

I know that many parents worry about their sons playing war games, and fear that it will promote warlike tendencies. I do not believe this is so, and it has not been my experience, growing up with a brother and raising two boys, now teenagers. Boys seem to really need to play these cat-and-mouse games. They enjoy running around in a pack of boys, weilding weapons or weapon-like objects (sticks, swords, cardboard tubes, you name it). I do not see any harm in this. On the other hand, I have known kids who were strictly forbidden by their parents to do any of these activities. Sometimes they are fine with that, but sometimes they become obsessed with the things they are not allowed to have. One kid would visit our house and have no interest in any other activities besides non-stop water gun play, because he was not allowed to have water guns at home. My kids quickly became bored with his single-mindedness, and went off to do other things while he continued to run around by himself waving the water gun.

So, I think you don't need to worry about your son playing laser tag, and furthermore, if he likes it, you should have a family outing sometime so you can try it yourself. It is not my cup of tea - I would rather be gardening. But when I try something that my kids enjoy, be it laser tag, or rap music, or TV shows & movies, I am showing them that I respect their opinions and their preferences, and they are more open to trying things *I* like. I think this teaches them about tolerance and respect for people who are not like they are. I always give them my opinion, which they are free to disagree with (and they often do). But they also ask my opinion about things ("Mom - look at this video game - isn't this cool?") So, I have some clout, plus, I get first-hand knowledge about them and their world. And every once in a while, they even introduce me to something that I really like, that I wouldn't have known about otherwise. -- Ginger


I think your uneasiness is well-founded. This seems a case of life imitating a game designer's notion of what is fun. The children, in this game, become animations. This is very different from a spontaneously child-organized game where "dying" is a feature. (For example, as in my son and his friends pretending that they have been killed by a natrual disaster, or even a monster, but then recovering through the help of friends or somehow achieving some kind of remdemption.) Children find many things fun, and our role as parents is to figure out what's good for them and what is not. Lately, we US parents have not been doing a very good job, I think.
i never allowed my boys to have toy guns when they were growing up (although they'd make guns out of anything: legos and lincoln logs were popular materials). later i did allow water guns on hot days. they were older when laser tag centers showed up, and i took them to a few. it's a lot of fun! the down side is the rudeness of some of the kids, which you may find if you're there with people not from your group (hopefully not from kids within your group!). some will push in front of the line to get recharged, or run (no running is allowed) and wind up crashing into others. when we played with just our group, it was lots of positive fun.
The social psychology research shows that there are strong "foot-in-the-door" effects where taking a small step in one direction makes one much more likely to take further steps in that direction than would otherwise be the case. There's no reason to think that laser tag would be exempt from this. In a similar vein, all the research shows beyond the shadow of a doubt that "taking out one's aggressions" only makes one feel better temporarily, while *increasing* aggression in the long term. There is a ton of research on this that you can find on MELVYL on the PsycInfo database.

Furthermore, I've seen an article by a self-described former "kill-ologist" who used to work for the US Army, who basically described how giving soldiers regular target practice with bullseyes didn't overcome people's basic aversion to killing others, so that when they were actually presented with an "enemy" they often didn't shoot or missed on purpose. The Army learned that in order to break down people's inhibitions and get them to actually shoot other people, you train them by giving them realistic human-shaped targets in target practice, which vastly increased the Army's "efficiency".


There is a big problem I have with Laser Tag. I don't believe you should ever, EVER point a gun, even a toy gun, at anyone. If my son decides to do some hunting when he becomes an adult, that's his business, but I do want him to understand that you should never, in the interest of safety, ever point any kind of gun at anyone. Issues of violence aside, this is a basic safety issue here and I think the firearms owners out there would agree it's not a good habit to point guns --real or toy -- at people, period. Ever.
I find your discomfort with the laser tag game quite understandable, which surprises me, since I've gradually come to feel that pretend gun and shooting play with water guns or invisible guns gets taken a little too seriously by adults, too literally. We don't try to understand the things that might be driving it, like feeling small and vulnerable and powerless, and working out for oneself how to imagine oneself big and competent. My daughter constantly sports a magic wand with powers now, and has an imaginary sister "as tall as the sky". Her preschool settings have always strongly forbidden gun play, and I think the wand and sister are her ways of addressing similar needs. Better? Maybe or maybe not, but possibly culturally unavailable to little boys. And they don't let her work on issues around life and death very well.

So why does the laser tag bother me? Well, I vaguely remember reading something of Bateson's many years ago, in which he talked about young animals play fighting. What interested him, was that play fighting implied simultaneously sending the message "This is a bite." and the message "This is not a bite.", and the paradox inherent in that implied a higher order system of symbolic communication. It seems to me that what many parents and kids miss, in forbidding all gun play, is just how complex such play is, and the many sorts of things that might be being worked out in it. On the other hand, I think the thing that disturbs me about this laser tag game is that, in it, the "This is not a bite" component essential to play has become weak, perhaps dangerously weak. The kids aim at one another, and their shots actually land, by lighting up the vest or whatever. In turn, this means that, unlike with invisible or stick guns, or water guns, the victim has no choice about whether to be "dead" or not. Moreover, in such a formalized game setting, their is no room for the play to morph from the very narrow shooting/killing thing into other games or types of play, as such things always do in the younger crowd. Thus, in many ways, rather than (open, negotiable) play, it starts to seem like training, hence scary.


I know, the Atlanta shootings don't have anything directly to do with the discussion the other week on laser tag, but in light of the Atlanta news, the Columbine High news, and the earlier discussion on playing with guns, may I offer this short excerpt from a Robert F. Kennedy speech, April 5, 1968.

"...we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter... We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire whatever weapons and ammunition they desire..."

The full speech, On the Mindless Menace of Violence, can be found at: http://www.rfkmemorial.org/about/april5_1968.htm

Thanks, I appreciate this forum as we consider how to best raise our children and keep them safe and loved in this society.


I'm late with this message because we were on vacation, but I couldn't resist my 2 cents' worth re laser tag. We got an invitation to a birthday party at a laser tag place, and my son and I decided he wouldn't go. This was right after Columbine. I told the inviting parent why we weren't attending. Some parents told me that they let their kids go to the party because the kids had been to laser tag before and said it was "fun." My response was that I don't WANT my kid thinking that shooting other people is fun.
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