Gun in hand, the hunter stalks his prey -- but he is being hunted too. It's dark and his heart is pounding as ZZ Top blares. His gun beeps at him as he runs for cover.
This isn't as perilous as it sounds. It's actually quite fun.
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Hero's Laser Tag is a new, family-friendly laser tag arena in Gulfport, and it has numerous options for gamers. The 15,000-square-foot warehouse, open since Oct. 1, has a re-configurable maze that makes up the battlefield.
Players can engage in up to 36 gaming scenarios, including classic deathmatch, whack-a-mole, domination and many more.
"Kids have more fun here because we're different," said Schrie Gunnarsson, co-owner of Hero's Laser Tag. "We use different technology so we don't have to use heavy vests. Everything is on the gun. We also have headbands that have sensors on them."
The headband sensors allow players to play zombie-oriented games. In these games, if a zombie player remains too close to a non-zombie player for a certain amount of time, the non-zombie dies. Conversely, the non-zombie must shoot the zombie in the head to send the zombie to his or her starting point.
"Picture an invasion of zombies and you fighting your way to find food, water, the antidote just to survive," co-owner Dave Borkowski said. "In one game we play, you have 20 minutes to find out (if you can survive), while fighting off hordes of zombies."
Two types of laser gun are available at Hero's Laser Tag. One uses old paintball guns with a laser sensor attachment. The other uses M4 rifle bodies, modified with laser technology and CO2 canisters, to provide a more realistic recoil.
In addition to the two types of laser guns, Hero's offers a boxing glove-shaped laser gun called the Hero Blast, which gives a superhero-like ability to shoot lasers from an outstretched arm. A thumb trigger on the handle controls the blast, which comes from a player's fist on the other side of the device. It's a laser-tag experience that leaves a player feeling a bit like Iron Man.
"It's really a great way to get people to work together," Borkowski said of the laser tag games. "We've done team-building exercises, we've done birthday parties, even large church groups some afternoons."
Spending an afternoon with a couple friends stalking the battlefield is a great way to pass a rainy afternoon. Austin Boher, 21, and Johnathan Godd, 21, both from Saucier, agreed.
"We just thought this would be a cool way to kill an afternoon," Boher said. "It's my third time up here and I really enjoy it."
"I've had the idea to try to use it for my (National) Guard unit's Family Readiness Group," Goff said, "as a kind of fun way to train."