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Battlefield Live SA Laser Tag in Cape Town
This exhilarating, no-pain-all-gain military game makes for a perfect party idea or unforgettable team-building event
I’m being hunted by a bunch of rowdy men from a bachelor party. My heart is thundering wildly, pounding above the sound of the quick, shallow breaths reverberating in my head, and all I can think about is escaping their advances. I leap out from my shelter and make a run for it through Wynberg Park’s maze of tree trunks to the nearest safe spot and regroup while thinking about how I can duck and dive unseen to get away or to stop them in their tracks.
Okay, it’s not quite like it sounds, and admittedly I might be taking this all a little too seriously, but it’s virtually impossible not to get completely immersed in a Battlefield Live SA laser tag game. State-of-the-art weaponry, camouflage combat vests, streaked-on war paint and the natural forest setting make the simulated Call of Duty-style contest feel just like the real deal, so players get the thrilling sense that they’ve stepped straight into a live military scenario where every move feels like a matter of ‘life’ and ‘death’.
That said, the fact that the guns use high-tech infrared technology that causes no pain whatsoever means that a Battlefield Live face-off is as safe as any indoor laser tag session (minus the stuffy enclosed environment and artificial lighting), and so players can relish all of the same sort of excitement that they would in the similar game of paintball, only without the fear of having to return home decorated in unsightly welts.
This makes the whole experience astonishingly enjoyable even for skittish, non-gaming types like me, who certainly wouldn’t want to miss out on the opportunity for carefree play. Brought to Cape Town in 2012, the concept is currently owned by former animal trainer and life coach Renar Wheeler, who saw the potential to use the game as a corporate team-building exercise that could help businesses apply lessons learnt from strategic combat situations to the workplace. Though the original focus was on creating an extreme, hardcore military-type experience, these days, the sessions aim to just provide a whole heap of heart-thumping, harmless fun, not just for employees but also for kiddies (strictly seven or older), bachelors and bachelorettes.
Rewinding to the beginning, before all of our bachelor party fun began, things go like this. First, we were divided into two teams and then given a quick lesson about the workings of our realistically weighty rifles. Alongside learning how to reload our firearms when ammunition runs out, we were also made aware of the guns’ precise aiming features – thanks to a red dot scope, shooting is incredibly accurate, which makes it a lot easier to ‘hit’ the infrared sensors positioned on the front and back of opponents’ vests and on the crest of their weapons, even if the enemy is hiding up to 200m away (the rifles are, in fact, so authentic that forces like the British Army use similar versions in their training).
Once we were all geared up and had our faces veined with streaks of black, brown and army green, the whistle blew for the first of many times and what ensued was a full hour of exhilarating entertainment, of running and skidding amongst fallen leaves, of quick-thinking and fast-talking and the infectious elation of victory. Post a free-for-all session aimed at acquainting us with our guns, we moved on to playing out various war-style scenarios, many of which avid gamers would already be familiar with – there was ‘Capture the Flag’, ‘VIP Escort’ and everyone’s favourite, ‘Team Deathmatch’.
The intensity of the games got me right into the zone, and sharing a common goal and mutual enemy with my crew meant I quickly felt in sync with them, a fact that I assume goes a long way to helping new employees integrate with other staff when corporates play. But that’s the thing about Battlefield Live SA: it’s a game that’s designed to make sure everyone gets the most out of it. It’s got a strong strategic element, so it also appeals to those who are more mentally than physically inclined (yes, even those who are allergic to running can participate). If the aim is team-building, the missions can be adjusted so that they’re more outcome-based and training-focussed, and if the aim is just pure entertainment (as is the case for kiddies’ parties and bachelor jols), then sessions are tailored to offer players as much fun and freedom as possible and to give everyone the thrill of feeling like a real live hero for a day.
And I must admit, as our mini battle drew to a close, I was certainly wearing the glow of a victor. We ended the adventure with a final round of ‘Sniper’, which saw the bachelor boy hide away and take long-range ‘shots’ at us while we searched for him. I never thought I’d be the type to get sucked into a game like Battlefield Live SA, but as I discovered, it offers the sort of addictive experience that quickly takes you prisoner.
Note: Battlefield Live games are usually hosted at Wynberg Park because of its central location. Alternatively, because the exercise is portable, you can request to have it brought to a location of your choice. The action will continue regardless of the weather – rain only adds to the drama.
Tip: Battlefield Live can accommodate up to 250 people for a corporate team-building event, with 28 people playing at a time. And because the game can be set up at any venue, it can be brought in as a breakaway activity between talks or workshops at conferences.
The Bill: A two-hour Battlefield Live game for 14 people costs R2590 in total (excluding corporate events – see these prices below). This is the minimum event charge, so smaller groups will still have to pay this amount, and larger groups will pay proportionately more. Corporate team-building dos are priced between R395p/p (for just the game) and R695p/p (for the game and a halaal spit braai, venue hire, arrival tea/coffee, 1 x bottle water and 2 x alcoholic/non-alcoholic drinks); there’s no minimum number of people required for laser tag only, but at least 20 people must be attending to qualify for the spit braai. On top of these prices, there’s also a R700 call-out fee for games hosted outside of Cape Town.
You might also like: 13 Top Bachelor Party Ideas in Cape Town.
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