If you are a fan of shooters you’ve probably been bunkered down in a dark room somewhere for the past 10 years playing Counter Strike, Call of Duty or Battlefield, letting real military simulation slip by your blood thirsty cross hairs, yearning for something that takes more than rapidly tapping the R button on your keyboard. Put on your pants, soldier and head down to Block Ops Advanced Tactical Laser Tag in Strijdom Park. It’s so close to actual fire fights in war zones that the South African Armed Forces and other private security firms make use of the Black Ops warehouse to train their legions.
What started out as a Sunday afternoon conversation between Black Ops founder Avinash “The General” Nair and his cousin (over a gaming session, of course) soon turned into the world’s leading laser tag facility. Avinash travelled to Australia, the UK and America to do research on this project to ensure the most realistic experience for all users. It was in Wisconsin, America, where he met an ex-Navy SEAL who introduced him to the system Black Ops is now known for. Since Black Ops opened its doors in September, the company has had over five thousand people walk through its doors.
As the only laser tag arena of its kind in Africa, Black Ops is at the forefront of something big. Not only is it 90 minutes of hardcore adrenaline pumping action, but the events have been designed in such a way that they enforce team building and trust between players. As Avinash puts it, there’s no way someone can bust into a game and just Rambo his or her team to victory. Because of this, Black Ops has come highly recommended as a company that specialises in team building exercises outside of a corporate environment.
The weapons themselves are replicas of actual automatic and semi-automatic rifles and side arms used by the American Special Forces, complete with realistic recoil when the trigger is pulled. To make matters even more realistic, one can choose to wear a belt that discharges five thousand volts of electricity each time you get shot – this is optional, of course. Different scenarios are played off, such as hostage rescue, breach and clear, and bomb deactivation.
Once a month Black Ops also hosts a zombie event in which actors take to the arena and players need to try and survive without being infected. Don’t know about you but that sounds like our cup of tea… yes, please. And all this for R350? Trust me, it’s worth it. You’ll become a regular and never see Call of Duty the same again.
By Shawn Greyling