Sunday, July 1, 2012

What was Star Laser Force like?

Here is your virtual nickel tour of Star Laser Force, adapted from my original posting on a Yahoo group in 2009.

Star Laser Force was the first commercial laser tag venture in Houston, Texas. The facility had one indoor arena.

The building was a double sheet metal warehouse. Initially you could walk in the front door, and the waiting room was up front; later a much larger waiting area was finished and I think there may have been picnic tables for parties. When you came in the back door from the parking at the rear you passed through a dark tunnel and through the Stargate, a “chamfered” science-fiction doorway illuminated from within... well, really it was a black wooden channel with aluminum foil and Christmas lights.

The whole of the interior of the building except bathrooms and employee areas was painted flat black. There were some benches for people to wait for their turn. They always had a few arcade video games. I remember an old Space Wars early on, and later, in the large waiting area, there were titles such as Gauntlet and Bomb Jack.

You had to fill out the one-sheet sign up form to play. It had a brief and barely adequate legal disclaimer. They made cheap laminated photo IDs. You'd pay your $3.00 to play (initial price at opening), and games were initially 7 or 8 minutes as I recall. If you paid in advance (and you really had to), your receipt would get you into your game's time slot, and if you were serious about playing the game your team would sit together and work out strategy while waiting for your chance.

Star Laser Force Brochure/Mailer

Imagine it's 1985... you're in high school or college... you're hoping for something fun to do during summer.  Then you see this flyer promising real, live battles, "Star Wars" style.  Just about every boy in town would try it out given a chance.  If nothing else it would get you out of the Houston heat for a while. In the end, though, you might get just as drenched in sweat playing inside as if you'd been jogging in Memorial Park.

The park isn't packed with people trying to take you down, though. That's laser tag... and the adrenaline rush never seems to get old.

(Click to enlarge.)

This image is the same brochure now on display in the awesome Laser Tag Museum in Kentucky.

If you actually got one of these in the mail, I might just have to envy you.