Laser tag vs. airsoft

Updated: Jun 10, 2020

We are happy to present you an article in which we compared laser tag and airsoft. It has been written by a person who knows a lot about recreational activities and has devoted a great deal of time to studying the aspects and details of paintball, airsoft and laser tag. We are talking about Vladimir Zamotin. I have already compared indoor laser tag and paintball before. That material evoked certain response and I drew great pleasure from browsing the web and reading what people write and think about. I even took part in some really hot discussions.


They asked me – why didn’t you consider airsoft and why didn’t you go for it – for isn’t it akin to paintball? I will undertake an attempt to explain this.


I learnt about laser tag accidentally – as to airsoft, I had been familiar with it for ages. I made a conscious decision to not play it. I went back to that decision again and again, I tried playing, I gathered and analyzed a huge volume of information that is available to everyone. I talked to players that rent equipment and visited clubs. I talked to members of professional teams and owners of shops selling airsoft equipment. Each time I analyzed the information I had gathered I understood that it was not me, I don’t want, I can’t do it! In order to support my words by facts, I will explain my point step by step, just as I did with paintball. As my experience with the previous article shows, describing each point is more constructive – it does not let one drop down to the level of “I know what I like but I cannot explain why”!

I would like to point out that I am not a professional airsoft player – my point of view is just an “image” seen by an average player who wants to play airsoft or is in the process of choosing a military game for himself, seen by a person who starts searching for information. It is a cast of what anyone can read on forums of airsoft players, the echo of what I hear after watching videos about airsoft.


The compared points have been slightly changed and more info has been added to them… as to the parts concerning laser tag – I left them almost unchanged.


EFFECTIVE RANGE


Airsoft – data varies a lot, but an effective range of over 100 metres has hardly ever been mentioned. The average combat range is 30 – 60 metres.


Laser tag – the effective range of some blasters comes up to 500 metres. Combat held at a distance of 150 – 200 metres is a norm. At times, it comes down to knife fighting.


REGISTERING HITS


Airsoft – a ball hits the body or equipment. Registered by a player. The game is based purely on trust, which often results in conflicts and arguments. The hit may not be felt in the heat of the fight or due to coming from a long distance, or is the result of a ricochet. Yet this will be discussed later…


Laser tag – the electronic system detects hits and the amount of inflicted damage. If the damage amounts to “game death”, the equipment gets automatically switched off and there is no need for a referee.


DEFEAT ZONES


Airsoft – the whole of the body can be defeated. Selective strikes. The weapons are precise enough for pinpoint firing.


Laser tag – in the majority of cases, hits are registered by a headband. Vests with sensors on the chest, back and stomach have come up. The further away the target, the bigger the defeat area. But as a rule, it does not exceed 1.5 metres. At a distance of 100 metres away from the target one can just aim into the chest and if the blaster has been set up correctly – you will not miss. It does not feel adequate at first, yet one gets used to it soon enough. When firing powerful blasters inside premises there are ricochets. In my opinion, this is quite realistic – I would have lowered the power of ricochets though. There is a special function for this, lowering the power of infrared diode firing significantly lowers the power of ricochets, yet the effective range decreases and aiming becomes harder.


LOCATING A RIVAL


Airsoft – all is as simple as it is in paintball. The rival is where balls are coming from. Besides, the firing sound is well heard from as far as 40 – 50 metres away (the average fighting distance).


Laser tag – it’s all quite different here. The sounds produced by a rival’s weapon firing can be heard at a distance of 20 – 40 metres. In the dark one can see lamps flickering on a gun barrel. Yet at a distance of over 50 metres one must prepare oneself for an attack that may come from any direction. The sounds that are produced by own blaster are of great help – “whizz of bullets” warn about fire that is held in one’s direction. Sometimes you may hear – “killed in combat” – and not know where the fire came from. It reminds of combat actions where special unit fighters use weapons with silencers. The shooter can normally be located thanks to a special shot illumination – this is a really cool function.


CHEATING PLAYERS AT THE PLAY FIELD

Airsoft – this is the most delicate subject matter for airsoft. Honesty is really important in airsoft. Despite the claims made by players and organizers that absolutely everyone in airsoft is honest, there are in fact no airsoft competitions, while arguments and disagreements at various events are always present. This is one of the reasons why those who rent airsoft equipment are rarely admitted to games in which professional teams participate – professional players do not believe that those who rent equipment are honest. Besides, there is hardly anyone who believes them to be honest, for the desire to win will most probably outweigh their ability to be honest. So, the player will highly likely pretend to not feel the ball hit their clothes. As for me, I could have never understood why – while I do not cheat anyone, there was no ball hit – yet I must leave the game just because a rival believes that he has hit me?


Just take the excerpt form an article written by an airsoft player about the game:


“It is for the abovementioned reasons that no “competitions” are possible in airsoft. Does anyone have illusions that players will admit own defeat when there is a battle for medals?”


Laser tag – you can’t cheat electronics. It’s an exception rather than the rule. This mainly happens during big games (this hardly ever happens at rental clubs). Most violations can be dealt with by clearing game statistics.


PLAYERS’ SAFETY


Airsoft – playing without protective glasses is forbidden. Using a mask is possible – a net or a paintball one – yet professional players believe that this is breaks the rules. Even though there are rules and it is forbidden to fire weapons with high muzzle velocity at close distance, anything may happen. While a soft and heavy gelatin ball in paintball leaves a bruise, a light yet strong airsoft plastic piece can go under the skin or knock a tooth out… there are plenty of examples. 



Laser tag– no hitting object and therefore no pain. No need to look for a separate safe shot adjustment area, recreation area, etc. Women and kids can join in. Besides, there is no need to protect one’s eyes – neither mask, nor glasses are required.


FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT


Airsoft – there are glasses in the least and the possibility to strike a random spectator does exist. Pain shock may lead to loss of balance. Therefore, playing at several levels/ floors is risky. The size of a game area must be decided upon. 


Laser tag – full freedom. No masks, no pain, no harm can be done to people around. Extra moves may be required to get behind enemy lines – that’s all right as long as no passers by get scared by the aggressive look of the players.


ADRENALINE


Airsoft – there is Adrenalin in airsoft. The Adrenalin from firefight, the adrenalin from expecting pain. One cannot get away from the adrenalin caused by offence when colliding with a “MacLeod” who does not admit defeat, nor from the Adrenalin after being unfairly blamed for something.


Laser tag – adrenaline is different, and no pain here. Many believe that this is bad when there is no adrenaline. Yet is this so? Here are a few excerpts from an article on pain by a laser tag club “In a game, pain is not a motivation”: “…practice shows that few people enjoy experiencing pain – more often, people enjoy causing someone pain – this is players’ nature. As a result of the poll “Would you like to experience pain YOURSELF provided YOUR rival WILL NOT experience pain?” none of the players answered Yes. It has been precisely noted that there are few masochists, there are rather more sadists…”

So, is pain really important during a game? In laser tag, you will get adrenaline from tracking down your aim, from expecting fire that may come from any direction… and this is awesome.


HOW WEATHER CONDITIONS AFFECT THE GAME


Airsoft – frost and wind are a no-no. Frost will not just cause accumulators failure. Not to say about gas-powered guns. What is even worse, the fragile and expensive internal construction of air rifles fails due to over cooling. Low temperatures are not good for the moving parts made of plastic and silumin. The wind is the worst enemy of an airsoft player. The firing ball is too light and its travelling direction can be easily fluctuated by gusts of wind.  


Laser tag – the only limitation is heavy rain. Frost, snow, heat will not cause any damage to equipment. Playing in the winter is common, laser tag can be played throughout the year. The wind does not affect infrared rays.


RGANIZING VARIOUS GAME SCENARIOS


Airsoft – much can be done, yet that won’t be easy to realize. Equipment won’t sense hits by 2 gram balls so it can’t be blamed for being “macleodish”. Mines can easily damage eyes when a destructive element comes from below. Besides, that is not easy to accomplish. As a result, airsoft players often make mines and grenades by themselves… sometimes they have to face problems due to illegal actions.


Laser tag – your fantasy is the only limit. Anything can be programmed – inflicted damage, number of lives, cartridges and magazines, time required for reloading and fire rate. In laser tag, there are mines, artefacts, anomalies, checkpoints. The variety is striking! For example, can you imagine creating a paintball scenario with a radioactive snork from STALKER world, whose even “dead” body will defeat players? In laser tag this is as easy as a pie, and 5 hits will not suffice to knock one out. A player with an interesting equipment set will get great benefits during a game. Unlike airsoft, there are scenario games and sports tournaments that are sure to be honest and fair.


REALISTIC WEAPONS


Airsoft – is a trendsetter, its leadership is beyond any doubt. There are dozens and hundreds of various pistols, machine guns and rifles. Weapons size, details and weight are same as those of combat weapons. There are varieties of balls feed. There are no limitations as to the types of weapons, well, there are some to be exact… yet a bit later on this. As to the weapons, everything is just fine here – airsoft is top of the range when it comes to the realistic look of weapons.   


Laser tag – all is as in real life. Blasters are made from plastic or converted from air rifles. Some are made from replicas of combat weapons – basically those are neutralized combat weapons. There are pistols, assault rifles, light and heavy sniper rifles, grenade launchers and mines with grenades! There are shotguns with low muzzle velocity – shots produced from them cover a large area. There are knives that kill from the first strike and make it possible to have two weapon units on. There are mines and bombs that kill everyone in the nearest vicinity. Do you want to carry two weapons at once? No prob! Would you like to be lying down with a heavy sniper rifle outside Dragunov rifle defeat range or run around carrying a “real” AK? It’s easy!


DOES IT FEEL REAL


Airsoft – here is an excerpt from an article about airsoft: ”Just how well worked out in detail a selected model will be is determined by two aspects: modelling and reconstruction. The term “reconstruction” is defined as a maximum correspondence of form and construction. It means that only what is used in prototypes can be applied in replicas. And not otherwise. If an original cannot be obtained or its price is excessively high, then only the “right” replicas can be used instead – those are the commercial copies that bear true likeness to the original”.

What we get from the above stated is that reconstruction and modelling will draw you to reality as close as possible. You will only have to put up with such small things as low effective range, invincibility of a player sitting in the bushes and cheating of a rival that desires to win.


Laser tag – it is a lot closer to reality. Here, there are effective ranges, weapon settings, even division into defeat areas! For example, when using vests with sensors, hitting the body causes less damage, while a player wearing a helmet can get more health points. A sniper and a machine gunner will have a different number of cartridges and rates of fire. It takes less time to replace a magazine in an assault rifle than in a machine gun. You will get the right amount of cartridges and will be able to block access to a firing point by mines.


THE NEED TO WEAR AN OUTFIT AND GAME CONVENIENCE


Airsoft – the game is clean and no one will make you dirty on purpose. Yet you will have to buy a special separate outfit. We will talk about this later.


Laser tag – you can wear any comfortable clothes for a game, for example, a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. It only depends on you how dirty it gets.


Laser tag is a fun game. The game is real, beautiful and joyous. It is sure to give you positive emotions, combat adrenaline, and everything else you may wish!!!

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