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Back off — women fighting!

Why do few women play laser tag? – this thought sprang to our mind one day. Indeed, even though there are girls at nearly every game, their number is always scarce. There may be two reasons for that: either this game is not at all genteel (ultimately, warfare is considered to be men’s domain), or women just haven’t given it a go. We’d prefer the second reason, of course. Yet in the end we decided to stop wrestling with the matter and to ask women players and women club owners directly: “What do you, girls, like about laser tag and what do we do to see the more beautiful half of humanity on polygons more often?”

6 stunning girls readily responded to our appeal and shared their opinion with us. As it often happens, there was something very similar about their responds, on the other hand, they were worlds apart. There is nothing strange about that, for we talked about personal impressions and emotions – not tried to solve a math problem.

Is it appropriate for a woman to take part in warfare?

When we speak about laser tag, we always emphasize that this game is for everyone: children, women, men. It does not matter what their age (even toddlers who have just learned to walk attempt fighting in their own baby manner), size or physical conditions is. Yet the fact remains that mainly children and men play the game. Indeed, there is shortage of ladies in laser tag.

What does it mean? Is laser tag too “masculine”? Or, on the opposite, is it a rather kids’ kind of game (men are childlike anyway)? Let’s find out what it is that makes laser tag attractive for women. Meet our charming respondents.

Aliona Erosh, Georgyievsk, 26th Squadron club:

“I am 19 and I’ve been playing laser tag for a year now. I played my first game last year, on the 9th of May. I immediately got into it. I’ve been enjoying shooting games ever since I was a child; I played “warfare” with my brother, “Counter-Strike”. I go crazy about running around, hiding, carrying out hard tasks, working out a strategy!

Well, you won’t find that many girls that love shooting games. We mostly play with dolls when we are smaller and we simply don’t know what war is. Like I knew from my brother, but not everyone has brothers. Therefore, girls think sometimes that laser tag is not for them. They change their opinion altogether right after playing the game.”

Svetlana Markova, Moscow, the organizer and the talisman of the Skif club:

“I was brought up by men – my Dad and brothers. Therefore, I found everything military truly exciting: how it is made and why it works. I used to be a very timid girl, but when I took up organizational activities, I changed a lot. Laser tag consolidated the improvements.

I accidentally stumbled across laser tag 5 years ago. I liked it and now my brother, my friend and I are developing laser tag together in our city. The thought that laser tag is a game that men play has always stimulated me. What I mean is that from the very start this has been a men’s, adult game for me – not a kid’s one. There are always people around me who I want to be like, whose level I would like to reach. Laser tag makes you move forward. You understand that you not only can play – you can organize games just as well or even better.”

Karina Grishina, Georgyievsk, 26th Squadron club:

“I am a musician, a creative person head to toe. I have started playing laser tag very recently, just a few months ago. I came to my first game randomly. But now I get to the polygon nearly every weekend. What does attract me about laser tag? It’s that the game is safe, convenient, it has simple rules. At the same time, it helps me spill out the negative emotions that accumulate over a week.“

Anna Sinitsina, Volgograd, Katiusha club director:

“Laser tag knows no age or sex restrictions. First and foremost, it implies the opportunity for the whole family to play, meaning that it is intended for men, women and children. Married women find the idea that they can spend time off with their families (and “kill” the husband) very appealing. Singletons hope to meet a strong man. As to me, laser tag helps me fulfil myself.”

Valeria Rudakova, Georgyievsk, 26th Squadron club:

“I do advertising and marketing and I was sent to my first laser tag game by the advertising agency; we had a tournament. It turned out that I was quite a good shooter, but I didn’t run as well. I had very sore muscles after the game. I could hardly walk, still I enjoyed that feeling, for it meant that my muscles were growing, I felt alive. In laser tag, ardour matters the most. Running, hiding, searching for the target, running away – there is something bellicose about it.”

Violetta Avanesova, Georgyievsk, 26th Squadron club:

“I am not an active club player. Rather than that, I know about, say, the other side of laser tag. I heard about laser tag from my husband (director of the 26th Squadron club). He was so enthusiastic when he came from his first game, and when he was telling me about laser tag, I was sitting, listening to him and… recalling the Star Wars movie. I imagined sparks and rays bursting from out of assault rifles. Now I cannot help smiling when I remember about this.

The first time I came to play the club had been operating for a few months. I was on maternity leave then, and that was out of this world for me. Those who have ever had to stay at home with a little kid will understand what I mean. To be honest, I didn’t at all understand what I had to do and what the game was about (we played checkpoint capture – by the bye, it’s my favourite scenario now). Then I took a camera and started taking photos. I didn’t feel thrilled or anything like that after the game. I thought: “It’s some warfare game for kids.” After that, I didn’t really fancy going to the polygon… I only went there for taking pics. Then once I gathered my friends from an online baby forum together to play a game. We decided to have a day of active recreation. It was then that I fell in love with the game.”

There are still women in the Russian countryside!

Valeria has brought up an interesting subject: indeed, laser tag was initially meant to be a shooting game for the teens that had been grown up watching Star Wars. Still, it is habitually or out of lack of knowledge called a kids’ game. Even though producers add new fully functional copies of combat weapons on a yearly basis. Children love warfare games, yet they will barely be able to appreciate the authenticity of the weapons. As to grown up men, they love such toys. While laser tag is a fun active run-and-shoot game for kids, for adults it is an opportunity to become someone else for an hour or two, to feel like a real soldier or even a hero on the action scene, to model a difficult situation and to escape it with one’s dignity intact. Obviously, there is nothing good about real war, yet playing it out will toughen you up, will help you see your other side, develop logical thinking (you will have to learn to think and to take quick decisions in order to stay alive).

Still this all is more relevant for men, isn’t it? In our still male dominated society women are perceived as fragile creatures, domestic goddesses, pure dandelions who don’t bother about battles and combats. There is no place for a woman at war. You had better go and do your nails.

Nonsense! Those who have at least once had women in their team know that women players successfully combine tenderness and toughness and fight just as well as their men mates. They want to feel like heroines who save the world, too.

Aliona Erosh, Georgyievsk, 26th Squadron club:

“Usually the girls that come are very self-conscious and shy, they are afraid to do anything wrong. But after an hour of playing they completely transform themselves. They feel at ease, get a sense of belonging, they turn into real warriors. Laser tag helps girls put a new role on. At that, every time you play you get a different experience. Feeling like a real warrior in scenario games (based on real events) is very interesting – it’s an inexpressible sensation! For you remain alive, while people in the same situation died. Ardour and adrenaline run high in scenario games. Apart from that, they help see real war and history from a different perspective. This is the way the young generation must study history: the information presented in study books contains bare facts and it is rather insufficient, while real sensations (even in unreal, modelled war) will be remembered forever.”

Dark horses

A girl-soldier is an embellishment of any combat. Yet one never knows what to expect from her, especially if she is a beginner who came to a game made up, her hair done, wearing new well-ironed trousers, skin-tight t-shirt and boots – all in military style. She will either stay in hiding throughout the game in order not to get messed up, or she may break through, win away the base and start killing enemies one by one looking and behaving rather bellicose. All-in-all, girls are completely unpredictable. While men stick to a clear-cut plan: “See the target, follow the target” – girls may have a myriad of approaches and strategies, all based on female logic: “See the target… Is that the target I need? Ouch, broken a nail! No way, you shot me?? Just wait a sec, stay where you are…” Men often get confused when they have to play with women, for they don’t know what is going to happen next: will she go right or left, stay in hiding or jump into action, will she finally comply with the commander’s orders?!

Anna Sinitsina, Volgograd, Katiusha club director:

“I believe that women can fight. They are quite successful at that. Well, it’s true that many girls completely lack sense of direction, they confuse right and left, but when it comes to tactics and rate of reaction they have no equal!

Girls make perfect commanders. They see the game from an entirely different perspective, they are very meticulous, conscientious and extremely quick. Girls are overall a lot more responsive. Men often take it for spontaneity and make cheeky comments about “woman’s logic”. It may look as if a woman made a strange and rash decision – but in reality, she always sticks to a plan. And it does not matter that it does not work out sometimes – most on the time men have no plan at all.”

Here is a slightly different opinion of Svetlana Markova (the organizer of the Skif club):

“For the record, I know few women who can command. Because to be a commander you must be really into how everything works. Besides, women are irrational and they have their own special logic and they lack focus when examining a situation. A woman gets confused when she has to manage more than 10 people. It’s true that girls think faster – yet their thinking is rather spontaneous. Therefore, everyone who is managed by a woman goes the wrong way. Nevertheless, I had several occasions when I was right and saw the situation better than others, but men refused to believe me until the very last moment when they nearly ran into the enemies.”

3 reasons to play laser tag if you are a woman

The girls that come to play laser tag often remind of fairies. Nonetheless, it is them who beat experienced players. They are quite determined when they do so yet playful at the same time. They are true women who will go inside a burning house, will stop a running horse if there is no one else to do that and whatever they do they will look as though they have just been to a beauty salon.

Yet the question still remains – why do women need laser tag? If they so much want to free the excess energy they can visit a fitness club, go for jogging instead of having to crawl around on the filthy ground looking out for the enemy. Besides, there are other ways to increase self-esteem aside from playing warfare games. When we asked girls about it, they gave us a number of reasons.

Laser tag helps lose extra kilos and relieve stress

If these two reasons are used as a slogan for “female” laser tag – girls are sure to run after it to the polygon. One hour of active laser tag game equals three hours of exercising at a gym. If you don’t believe us – try it. Compared to laser tag, jogging is nothing. During an hour of the game, you will soak your clothes up and during intervals, you will drink so much water you could never have had in a week. Good news for hardcore lovers: you will have aches and pains all over your body the next day, even if you lift weights in a gym four times a week. In laser tag, you will have to jump, run, crunch, crawl, do push-ups and exercise your abs and lower back all at the same time. Girls get ecstatic when discover that they have lost a couple of kilograms.

As to emotional release, it’s no secret that sports helps get rid of stress quickly and effectively. Therefore, it is not surprising that even though girls get exhausted, they feel satisfied after a game. There is the other side of the coin: it turned out that women are rather bloodthirsty and they relish the idea of “killing” their enemy – boss, friend or husband. Guys, be wary of women: they are very cunning creatures! If you do not let them spill out their aggression, blame yourselves.

Aliona Erosh, Georgyievsk, 26th Squadron club:

“Nothing can relieve stress better than laser tag. During the game, you dip into the process and completely forget about all your problems. You can also imagine how you take it out on your boss, for example, or on your boyfriend. And then you feel so much at ease (especially when you manage to “kill” him). You have played, calmed down – there are no problems left.”

Anna Sinitsina, Volgograd, Katiusha club director:

“Laser tag helps release any extra energy. Grown up women get particularly excited: one can get really jealous watching them play. I wouldn’t dare cross their way in real combat. Love pairs are very daring, too. By the way, it seems to me that it depends on a woman’s status how daring she is. Young single girls are low on this energy: they probably haven’t yet had enough from men. As to the women who are married or are in love, they are extremely energetic.”

Valeria Rudakova, Georgyievsk, 26th Squadron club:

“Essentially, you can kill someone, yet they will remain alive and happy. Laser tag is a different reality: same as a computer game, but even cooler. You need to think about how to defeat the enemy, capture the checkpoint, safeguard a building instead of that you are running low on washing powder or need to do washing up at home. Besides, mundane matters elicit negative feelings in women, constantly inhibit them most of the time. On the contrary, laser tag means action, adrenaline, emotions.”

Laser tag helps find a husband

Single men playing laser tag, be alert! Danger detected! Women are aware that lots of fun, cool, reliable, muscly guys play laser tag. These cannot be found at a night club. Besides, the scarce number of women in laser tag means that there is almost no competition. All she needs to do is come to the polygon and choose a husband. So many do.”

Svetlana Markova, Moscow, the organizer and the talisman of the Skif club:

“From time to time, there are women coming to our club who aim to meet the right guy and get married. Why not? Laser tag is a great place for meeting someone. I do have complaints about those who come to meet a partner, though. Whatever their goal, they must get serious about the game. It’s important to realise that there are other people around, so first play – then flirt. Besides, there are going to be a lot more subjects to discuss after the game. My point is, there are girls who ruin the whole game because they come to make passes at men. Knowing the man’s nature, you will understand that there is going to be no game under such circumstances. So, if you want to find a prospective husband on the battlefield, do the right thing and you will succeed!”

Anna Sinitsina, Volgograd, Katiusha club director:

“Why not, it’s a natural wish – to find a partner. Single women that come to play for the first time are not uncommon. More often than not, they behave in a very shy and humble manner, do not talk much, but in combat they fight on a par with men. Such women gain respect and men find them appealing. So, surely people get new acquaintances after a game. The rest is up to them.”

Laser tag increases self-esteem… one only needs to withstand sexism first

When a woman becomes one of the gang and starts playing on equal terms with men, she certainly gains respect and her self-esteem benefits from that. But unfortunately, the strong belief that women are weaker than and not as intelligent as men still exists. This opinion is typically shaped by men who have never come across a woman warrior (or they may not have encountered a woman at all). Yet combat puts the things right. To be honest though, at times girls take advantage of the situation, whenever they get a chance to do so. So what!

Aliona Erosh, Georgyievsk, 26th Squadron club:

“In my team, newcomer girls are treated nicely. I was teased during my first battle, though. You are a girl – there is nothing else to add. That drove me mad and I went out of my way to play well. It even happened once that out team won purely through my efforts. Then I was praised. But generally, we are on good terms with my team mates. We are extremely excited to see each other, we have own jokes and topics for conversation.

It is absolutely true that women rip all the benefits: men will bring them water, an ice-cream and even offer them a better blaster. At times guys complain that we just pretend to be weak in order to mislead them and win out. Well, there is truth in it. Nevertheless, we do our best to be nice to men. More than that, considering the fact that men are just like kids we have to give in sometimes so as not to upset them (ha-ha). But actually, we like the idea that we, girls, are not at all weak!”

Anna Sinitsina, Volgograd, Katiusha club director:

“It is crucial for both women and children that a game is pain free. Preferably, without injuries, scratches or bruises. Being women, they want to remain elegant and fit even on a battlefield. After a game’s over she wants to take a shower, slip on a blouse and a skirt and carry on with her daily activities without having to worry that she might have bruises and wounds all over her body. That may be the reason why girls seem to lack serious approach. That’s not true. Women take tasks very seriously. They give good thought to each detail, listen carefully to the instructor, ask questions. They play in the same manner: they plan every move and have a strategy. As to men, their actions are rather plain and straightforward: “What are they talking about? Let’s start the game, for goodness’ sake!”

As an organizer, I have never had an impression that I am not taken seriously. I am treated in a friendly and respectful way. To say more, a woman organiser will always find it easier to make arrangements and to attract people. But I come across different men. Some start teasing girls right away. But it does not go beyond that.”

Svetlana Markova, Moscow, the organizer and the talisman of the Skif club:

“At the beginning of my career, sometimes I was treated unfairly: “You are a girl, what could you possibly understand?” Indeed, there are men who don’t take a woman (especially a commander) seriously. Yet in the long run it appears that you were right: on a regular basis, men won’t listen and, therefore, make mistakes. It appears they should have listened to the woman.

I have not encountered cases of sexism as such, though. On the contrary, I feel flattered when I see that men trust me. This is a very fine line: they do not treat me like a buddy – they trust me, ask me for advice, share with me. I have a nickname and my comrades know me by it – it’s Gyurza. I got it because in a game, I am a stormtrooper and I always crawl. It’s common knowledge that crawling down somewhere, as well as subversive activities are my job. This sense of connection with other team mates and trust matter a lot.

As to special treatment… When we are fighting, being polite isn’t always possible, but generally men are very courteous – they will give a hand, bring water. But most of the time I say: “Stay away”. Although many other girls pretend to be weaker than they really are. This is the women’s policy widely acknowledged in our society.”

Karina Grishina, Georgyievsk, 26th Squadron club:

“I don’t take advantage of my position. I enjoy the thought that I am treated like a lady yet not discriminated against because of my sex. I proved to be tough and strong over a number of situations and I see now that when roles are given out I get good ones. I regularly receive difficult responsible missions.”

Valeria Rudakova, Georgyievsk, 26th Squadron club:

“Hm… sexism. Things happened. When I came to play for the first time I received sidelong glances and was laughed at, but then… I killed them all. Women are overall complicated creatures: appearances are deceptive and you cannot judge how well she will play by her looks. A very refined lady may turn a ladette on the polygon. Or she may nag the whole way. One can’t foresee that. Yet I like how guys treat those girls that come to play. In spite of the fact that they take them as equals during a game, they will give them a hand and will help them get out of a pit. I haven’t seen anyone give in though. When you play you don’t think about whether it is a woman or a man, you only have to remember that this player is your team mate, that one is from the rival team, you can’t shoot this one, yet you should put down that one. I was given a hand on a few occasions when I needed to get up a hill and then go down, but that was that, I was treated equally otherwise. Besides, I treat the guys in laser tag as my brothers.”

What shall I do if the blaster does not match my handbag?

We are just kidding. But we really wanted to know how women chose which weapon to go for. We made a logical suggestion that those girls who care how they look on the battlefield preferred light small tagers, just for the sake of comfort. A girl with a pistol in her hand looks very integral. It appeared, though, that women don’t mind comfort. For the first game, they are handed the lightest weapons, as though they were kids. Yet later on they swap it for something heavier and cooler. They don’t want to be regarded weak. More than that, they hate it when they are treated like kids. Girls, too, go for more complicated scenarios – for they find delight in thinking, creating strategies and overcoming hardships.

Svetlana Markova, Moscow, the organizer and the talisman of the Skif club:

“I’ve been playing with the M4 for a long time now – it’s my darling, my favourite. It is light and practical – ideal for my weight and height. I am short so it is very comfortable for me. Yet I cannot say that girls always choose blasters to fit their parameters. Everyone have their own preferences. We have sniper girls who run on the battlefield carrying blasters their height. Those who have been playing for a while now go for heavier cooler weapons. Even if they are not comfortable at all. Yet it looks great and she feels like a superwoman.

It is same as buying clothes. For instance, you can’t wear such high heels, you don’t even know how to walk wearing ones. But the shoes are so lovely and they make you look stunning! So, you put them on and go for a stroll… Well, you walk the way you can, of course. There is no way you will take them off or admit to yourself that you should have never bought them. Same with laser tag. A woman wears her vest, takes the uncomfortable blaster and she feels that she shouldn’t have. But she won’t take it off or exchange for a more comfortable one. She will rather die than admit that it’s uncomfortable for her. Still she plays great! The will power and the desire to be cool exceed any discomfort.

Talking about a scenario, as to me, the more difficult it is the better. Running to and from the checkpoint is good enough for a corporate player or for a beginner. If you are a thinking and constantly developing person you will need something greater.”

 Valeria Rudakova, Georgyievsk, 26th Squadron club:

“I like playing with heavier weapons. I love challenge for it makes me stronger. Running is hard, aiming is even harder, but if I manage I feel really cool. I find any weapons appealing. I don’t still know what is so special about knives, but I am crazy about knives, pistols, cross bows, rifles and other staff.

I go for any role in a game, activity swap helps quickly coordinate moves, make decisions, but I like to attack the most. By the way, this is typical of most modern girls: talking about myself, I hate sitting around doing nothing. Besides, I am that kind of person who loves challenges, not very big ones, though. I start from the simple and then want to increase difficulty level.”

More nice and different gals!

We couldn’t but ask our respondents what in their opinion we had to do to attract more women to laser tag. For it is obvious that this game caters for a lot of their needs: to chill out, forget about household, kitchen and problems, to get oneself into shape, raise self-esteem. Each will find what she needs in laser tag. It is clear that far from every woman will get excited about taking part in a war imitation. It is mostly active and energetic girls that are attracted by the game. There is a great deal of such girls in Russia!

Svetlana Markova, Moscow, the organizer and the talisman of the Skif club:

“Can women be attracted by laser tag? They can, if those are thinking girls. If they find it interesting to deal with strategies, to work with people. Those who want to learn to understand others and to apply the skills they already have.

Our team are now slowly but steadily developing own scenario games and we will now make steps forward and grow. I am an organizer by nature. Laser tag doesn’t let me forget my organizational skills. Thanks to laser tag, I have friends all over the country: I can go to nearly any city, for I will definitely have a place to stay and a friend to talk to. This means a lot.”  

Violetta Avanesova, Georgyievsk, 26th Squadron club:

“I haven’t had any significant achievements in laser tag, but I learned to not get nervous about scratches on the floor or on a table which may happen when electronic parts are integrated into the shell. We sometimes assemble or disassemble assault rifles at home. Even our 3-year old knows what an SVD or a Stechkin is.

I believe it’s a good idea to invite mums of small kids to laser tag. They cannot always find time for a gym or a swimming pool, yet they want to spill extra energy as well as stay away from household duties, have some rest. For example, my friends who are with small kids enjoy a lot this type of active recreation.”

Aliona Erosh, Georgyievsk, 26th Squadron club:

“I would say that laser tag is a must for strong-willed active girls. If you are a strong girl – go for it!

Well, we must stop here. We could endlessly continue discussing what women find special about laser tag. What matters the most is that they do find it appealing. There may not be a lot of such girls, but look at them! Laser tag will never die out as long as such active and beautiful girls play it. That’s because behind every strong and brave man there is a woman that is just as strong.