When I was in high school, laser tag was in its infancy. A few places had opened across the country, and one in my hometown had popped up by my senior year. That winter, one of the two physics teachers put together an outing to go the laser tag facility, and I found out about it through word of mouth and signed up.
The equipment was heavy, somewhere in the realm of 30 lbs./13.5 kg, and consisted of a jacket, a gun + backpack, and a solid blast helmet worthy of Star Wars. The were two towers that contained the "flag" that each team was supposed to zap, plywood and carpet obstacles, and a couple of bridge and upper level areas. Above the entire arena was an observation deck, where you could watch other people when they were playing.
Sounds an awful lot like PVP Battlegrounds, doesn't it?
Well, except for that part about the observation deck.
Unless you have your own observers who act like they're watching Rocky Horror Picture Show or Showgirls.
I was on as Quintalan yesterday for a bit in the afternoon, which was unusual for a Saturday. I wasn't planning on doing anything much, just some fishing that I'd promised myself I'd do to provide some haste chow and fish feasts for the guild. (Hey, it's an excuse to fish, what more do you need?)
Well, one of the guildies asked if anyone was up for a battleground. Since she and I had been in quite a few 5-man runs the past couple of months, I whispered her that if she didn't mind having a creaky wheel tagging along, I'd go. After all, I have no PVP gear to speak of, and haven't really PVPed in a battleground since Quint was in the mid-40s. That lack of experience didn't deter her at all, because without another word she popped up the invite and I accepted.
We queued up with another guildie and waited for the BG to pop up. Knowing my luck, I figured we'd end up with something I knew absolutely nothing about, like Isle of Conquest, but I was surprised and pleased to see Arathi Basin appear in the load screen. This, I could deal with.
Except for the [expletive deleted] death knight who took his first death at my hands personally, and spent most of the rest of the game sending Armies of the Dead to chew on my group's position.
It was then that the first spectator appeared.
My son wandered over to see what instance I was in, and he said, "this is different."
"Yeah, it's a battleground."
He watched me pursue a shadow priest for a moment. "Is it like tag?"
"More like having to capture and hold your position."
"Oh! Like Axis and Allies! Or Civilization IV!"
"Well, a lot quicker than that."
He watched me some more. "You died."
"I know." I sat there, waiting for the rez so I could get back into the fray.
I ended up not lasting that long. "You died again."
"Thanks. I noticed."
Arathi Basin over, we queued up again and got Warsong Gulch. By now, the girls had come by. "Watcha doing, Dad?"
"He just died," my son said.
I glared at the screen. "Playing in a battleground. You see, these people are on my side--"
"You're playing as Quintalan?"
"So they're Horde, right! Go Horde!"
"Yeah, go Horde. And we're trying to--"
"Hey! You've got a flag! Are you playing capture the flag?"
"Yes, it's like tha--"
"Wow! I love that game! Hey Steph, Dad's playing Capture the Flag on WoW!"
"When can I play?"
I took my eyes off the screen to shake my head at my youngest. "You're not old enough yet."
"Dad," my son said, "you died again."
"I know that. Look, I can't see with your head in the way."
"And again. You die a lot."
Now I remembered why I don't play WoW very much in the afternoons on the weekends. And I longed for the days of laser tag, where the spectators were separated from the players.