Shopping. Waterparks. Snorkelling. Elephant rides and mummified monks. Even a bungee jump. Been there done that and got the T-shirt. There are only so many things you can do on a little tropical island paradise before you go back to the beach and sleep again. That’s the problem with paradise; it’s just too full of palm trees and blue sky . . . until the day comes when someone whispers the magic word in your ear – Lazgam!
The idea of laser tag has been around for quite a while now; it’s no new thing. But whereas New York and Singapore have embraced it with relish, it’s not been the same with Scunthorpe, Saskatchewan or Samui. In fact, even a couple of years ago, most sassy Bangkokians would have gone ‘huh?’ at the mention of the name. But not any more.
Cutting a long story short, a couple of Swiss friends on holiday in Thailand noticed the gap in the market, invested millions to bring it to Bangkok, and then franchised it to Pattaya; and then to Samui – which really says something, as usually we’re the last to know about any new fun stuff. But, be that as it may, it’s now sitting waiting for you in a huge 720 square metre futuristic battleground, right above the main McDonald’s in Chaweng.
If you’re not sure what this is all about, think of paintball. But instead of running about in the wind and rain, bring it indoors. And take away the antique hardware too. Instead, pull it firmly into the 21st century. Set it into a sturdily-built large and complex labyrinth with lots of corners, twists and obstacles. Then make the whole thing even more cutting-edge with lots of swirling smoke and strobe lighting.
And to go with this, bring on a whole new concept in armament. Connect what looks like a mini-Uzi (but is actually a linked laser gun) to what looks like a SWAT team vest (but is actually a complex computerised receiver for incoming laser shots), add digital read-outs and identification names for each player and team . . . and off you go!
Entering into the playing area for the first time is a learning-curve into mayhem – or so it seems. Imagine the smoking wreck of the SS Enterprise filled with a bunch of jumping teenagers hosting a do-or-die techno party (there’s always a really gamey, pounding background track going). Certainly there’s a whole bunch of adults present, too. In fact you’ll see families having fun and corporate team-building, as well as school kids from the age of seven and up. This is the next best thing to playing a shoot-em-up computer game – probably more so because this time you’re actually in it.
And exciting it is – addictive, too, no matter what age you are. (In fact it’s now taken over as the most- popular activity on the Samui wedding party stag-night circuit.) You can play individually or in couples or a foursome, but unless you book a ‘Private Maze’ for your party (not cheap!) you’ll be shuttled into one of several opposing teams to play against each other.
Each team is colour-coded with different bright led colours, so that it’s easy to recognise the opposition. You score different points depending on where you hit an opponent. And when you get hit yourself, your light fades and a sympathetic voice murmurs in your ear, “ . . . don’t give up.”
The similarities to a computer game continue. There are six different playing modes, decided before the game begins: ‘Independence’ (you have only one life and yet you have to get past a posse of baddies); ‘Captain America’ (you have a power shield to protect you from laser strikes as you try to land three consecutive hits on your opponent); ‘Dark Mode’ (the only light illuminating the battlefield comes from the guns themselves; ‘Alien Invasion’ (you have to avoid the alien’s laser beams or risk becoming one of them); Flag Mode’ (a team effort with the aim to capture your opponent’s flag) and ‘VIP’ (in which you’re a bodyguard protecting an important person).
Each game lasts for 15 minutes. The first one you play is priced at 400 baht, the next (following) game at 350 and the third game at 250 baht. But there are big discounts for a daily pass (up to 10 hours for 1,200 baht) or an evening pass (5:00 pm to 11:00 pm for 1,000 baht). And every few weeks Lazgam posts a special promotion on their Facebook page, particularly in the low season.
Believe me, 15 minutes seems a lot longer when you’re dodging and ducking in the thick of it and trying to avoid the bad guys, some of whom are firing blind around corners or even hiding on a higher level. Plus there’s also a blue ‘Power Pod’ to give you more energy, a ‘Spy Mode’ which changes your team colour and even an invisibility mode if you earn enough points.
Sorry if all this has spoiled the idea of lazing by the pool. But now that you know about Lazgam, there’ll be no going back!
Rob De Wet
For more information, telephone 0 902 837 594.