Despite being in the ballroom of the Morgan University Center at APSU, the dark lights and emulated gun shots transported curious participants into a battlefield, where communication and teambuilding separates life from death, and sheer fun distracts students from their daily struggles.
Marking a first for the Govs Programming Council, Tropical Extremes hosted a four-hour laser battle event, free to APSU students. The Florida-based company holds events like this one for universities, churches, corporate team building groups and birthdays. Laser battles are not all they specialize in as they also have archery, hydro battles and dart battles. They are mobile which allows them to set up shop anywhere from ballrooms to football courts to backyards.
“You come in as strangers,” Tropical Extremes employee Daniel Campos said. “You leave as friends.”
Tropical Extremes prides themselves on being different and bold. Rather than having a simple laser tag game with plastic guns, they use steel, military decommissioned weapons. Another aspect that separates the laser battle from the more common laser tag is the main goal for each player: score points with only headshots.
After waiting in line, 14 random students are selected for the next round. They put themselves in their own teams of seven. Like real military operations, students are required to form bonds with people they would otherwise not likely speak to, to come out victorious.
“I have never met these people before,” sophomore broadcast media major Logan Sodan said about the group of four behind him. “I have played about three games with them specifically, though, because we all mesh well.”
Once the teams are picked, coordinator Daniel Campos explicitly states the rules to the game with a high emphasis on no physical contact. Next, the players pick a bandana to wear on their heads because to get the head shots required for points in the game, each student must place a sensor on their head that is connected to the gun, and as Campos said, the sensors have never been washed in fear of damaging the electronics within it. After all the prerequisites to the game have been met, the players are sent out to the dark, obstacle-filled university ballroom.
“The adrenaline rush is real,” sophomore agriculture major Mikaela Trembley said. “It is dark, people are shouting, it is fun.”
Tropical Extremes’ mission is to separate the individual from the stress of reality. With a high emphasis on team building, students are expected to form bonds with other students and carry out the connections even after the games have come to an end. In a survey conducted by the Associated Press in 2008, eight in 10 college students reported feeling stressed daily. The events hosted at universities are expected by Campos and the company alike, to serve as a potential outlet for students.
Campos said they are “the alternative” to doing other, less engaging activities.