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Laser tag vs. paintball

We would like to present your attention an article written by a person who is no stranger to laser tag and paintball – Vladimir Zamotin. In it he compares these two recreational activities.


Paintball – up to 50 – 60 metres. Guaranteed defeat at a distance of 40 metres. At greater distances there is a chance that the ball will not burst when hitting a target.

Laser tag – certain blaster types have an effective range of up to 500 metres. Fights at a distance of 150 – 200 metres are the norm. At times it even gets down to knife fighting.


Paintball – a ball breaks over a player’s body or ammunition. It is registered by the player or the referee. A hit may be overlooked. In the heat of a battle a player may not notice that he has been hit.

Laser tag – the electronic system detects hits and extent of damage. If a player receives the amount of damage that amounts to the level of “game death”, the weapon is switched off automatically and there is no need for a referee.


Paintball – the whole of the body may be defeated, which is great. Hits are selective.

Laser tag – hits are registered by a headband. Now vests with sensors on chest, back and tummy area have come up. Hit areas increase as distance to the target increases, they may reach 1.5 metres. At a distance of 100 metres all one needs to do is aim at one’s chest. It seems not adequate at first, yet one quickly gets used to it. There are ricochets when firing play weapons inside premises (at a maximum infrared power).


Paintball – all is easy. The rival is where the balls come from. The sound of a firing weapon can be heard from as far as 15 – 30 metres away (the common fighting distance).

Laser tag – it’s all quite different here. The sounds produced by a rival’s weapon firing can be heard at a distance of 15 – 20 metres. In the dark one can see lamps flickering on a gun barrel. Yet at a distance of over 50 metres one must prepare oneself for an attack that may come from any direction. The sounds that are produced by own blaster are of great help – “whizz of bulets” warn about fire that is held in one’s direction. Sometimes you may hear – “killed in combat” – and not know where the fire came from. It reminds of combat actions where special unit fighters use weapons with silencers.


Paintball – this is considered normal. Some don’t sense hits, while others pretend nothing has really happened. Firing after having been hit is very common. When there has been a clash between two players that has been concealed from others, proving which of the two was the first to hit the other becomes impossible. One can hear someone screaming “Referee, check this one” all the time.

Laser tag – you can’t cheat the electronics. It’s an exception rather than the rule. This mainly happens during big games (this hardly ever happens at rental clubs). Most violations can be dealt with by clearing game statistics. Knowing that only the headband registers hits a player can avoid getting hit by hiding his head behind trees or by sticking his weapon out from around a corner. Yet new players may mistakenly believe that if you have been noticed then you will highly likely be “dead”. Besides, this way you are most likely to lose respect and receive a minus to your reputation.


Paintball – gets the first place. Wearing a mask at a playfield is the necessary requirement. Children and women don’t often participate – it can be rather painful and there are often bruises after a game. Therefore, wearing a mask, neck protection, gloves, vests, etc. in paintball is a must.

Laser tag – no hitting object and therefore no pain. No need to look for a separate safe shot adjustment area, recreation area, etc. Women and kids can join in.


Paintball – a polygon with limited boundaries. The spectators have to stay behind the net or wear masks. The fights can only be held on ground building floors (for there is a risk of losing balance due to getting hurt when hit and limited view due to wearing masks). A game can be held next to recreation areas and public places provided a protective net is used. The balls in feeders are prone to breakage when dropped or hit – therefore, one has to handle weapons with extra care.

Laser tag – full freedom. No masks, no pain, no harm can be done to people around. One can fall down from the first floor out of being reckless. The weapon can be carried around on a sling behind one’s back and no extra gentle care is needed at all. Extra moves may be required to get behind enemy lines – that’s all right as long as no passers by get scared by the aggressive look of the players. What is more, the game can be played at night.


Paintball – you’ll get a lot of it here. In particular during the first few minutes of the game, when you are expecting the first hits. But then you get used to it and understand that hits only give pain and don’t always mean defeat. So you aggressively confront the rival not fearing ball hits any more. In paintball, you will get adrenaline rush at short distance combat. As well as from arguments on the battle field and from the feeling of resentment after being unjustly shot down when you have been defeated already. Debates between players such as: “I hit you first, you hit me afterwards… you cheated before though…”. This is adrenaline too, and it is part of the game. Yet few like it.

Laser tag – adrenaline is different, and no pain here. Many believe that this bad – no adrenaline. Yet is this so? Here are a few excerpts from an article on pain by a laser tag club “In a game, pain is not a motivation”: “…practice shows that few people enjoy experiencing pain – more often, people enjoy causing someone pain – this is players’ nature. As a result of the poll “Would you like to experience pain YOURSELF provided YOUR rival WILL NOT experience pain?” none of the players answered Yes”.

So is pain really important during a game? In laser tag you will get adrenaline from tracking down your aim, from expecting fire that may come from any direction… and this is awesome.


Paintball – it’s imperative that no strangers are allowed in. The number of players determines the size of the polygon. For 10 people a sizeable polygon may appear to be far too large – they will keep getting closer to one another due to the effective range of 40 metres. Finding a place for holding a game in a city may appear too hard, for after a game, there will be paint marks left and safe areas will have to be arranged.

Laser tag – it is as easy as a pie. You can hold a game ANYWHERE! In a forest, at a city park, even at a children’s playground. No special preparations for a polygon are required.


Paintball – moderation in everything. When it is too cold – weapons freeze and damage balls. When too hot – balls stick together. Snow gets inside gun barrel and gets stuck in the feeder, rain is no good either.

Laser tag – the only limitation is heavy rain. Frost, snow, heat will not cause any damage to equipment. Playing in the winter is common, laser tag can be played throughout the year.


Paintball – limited and prearranged. Either a player gets hit or he does not. The best one can do is count the number of times different parts of body have been hit.

Laser tag – your fantasy is the only limit. Anything can be programmed – inflicted damage, number of lives, amount of cartridges and magazines, time required for reloading and fire rate. In laser tag, there are mines, artefacts, anomalies, checkpoints. The variety is striking! For example, can you imagine creating a paintball scenario with a radioactive snork from STALKER world, whose even “dead” body will defeat players? In laser tag this is as easy as a pie, and 5 hits will not suffice to put one down. A player with an interesting equipment set will get great benefits during a game. There are scenario games for hundreds of players and tournaments with prize funds that make up hundreds of thousands of roubles!


Paintball – there are tactical markers, yet they do not even closely remind of combat prototypes. An exception would be the RAP4 range. Yet a player with such a marker on a play field will be disadvantaged due to less ammunition.

Laser tag – all is as in real life. Blasters are made from plastic or from air rifles. Some are made from replicas of combat weapons – basically those are neutralized combat weapons. There are pistols, assault rifles, light and heavy sniper rifles, grenade launchers and mines with grenades! There are shotguns with low muzzle velocity – shots produced from them cover a large area. There are knives that kill from the first attempt and make it possible to have two weapon units on. There are mines and bombs that kill everyone in the nearest vicinity. Do you want to carry two weapons at once? No prob! Would you like to be lying down with a heavy sniper rifle outside Dragunov rifle defeat range or run around carrying a “real” AK? It’s easy!


Paintball – it depends. Taken into consideration the 200 shots produced between blaster reloading and the possibility to bear 600 – 800 shots then yes. Effective ranges of up to 50 metres can be considered real, too. Bushes block shots, it’s almost impossible to draw a fighter out of a room, grenade hits hardly ever get registered.

Laser tag – it is a lot closer to reality. Here, there are effective ranges, weapon settings, even division into defeat areas! For example, when using vests with sensors hits to body cause less damage, while a player wearing a helmet can get more health points. A sniper and a machine gunner will have a different number of cartridges and rates of fire. It takes less time to replace a magazine in an assault rifle than in a machine gun. Scopes make the life even easier and it is possible to play at night and use night vision devices. Choosing the right outfit is important too. Besides, a sniper can now carry around with him a submachine gun or block access to a firing point by mines.


Paintball – is a must for those who want to play regularly. A mask will be better quality, not to say about an electronic marker.

Laser tag – no doubt, it’s better to have own blaster, while own headband will be cleaner. Yet a blaster that you buy for yourself will not be a lot better. It all depends on the model, yet the difference between own blaster and a rented one will not be as great as it is in paintball.


Paintball – an experienced player that wears a good mask and has an electronic marker always has advantages. He shoots faster. If two players meet on a play field the one that has rented equipment will lose. Even if they have equal amount of balls. The less experienced player is sure to lose. He will not be as precise, nor will he have same good view range. An experienced player often wins not because he is more skillful, but because he spends more – he brings more balls to the field. It’s no secret that new players often refuse to play with experienced ones and ask game organizers to not allow the “evil machine gunners” off the play field. Paintball players with electronic markers are often not allowed to come to some games.

Laser tag – there is hardly any difference. Well, own blaster may have a greater effective range, own scope is also a good thing. Yet this is not as significant as in paintball! The electronic components will smooth out any differences in rates of fire, ammunition and life levels. Both experienced players and those who rent their equipment feel quite at ease at a play field.


Paintball. Let’s suggest that a new player wants to play on the same level as experienced players. For this he will need an electronic marker – the price of an average one is 15000 roubles, own mask – prices start from 3000 roubles, own electronic feeder – price ranges between 2000 and 6000 roubles, an air tank – from 3000 roubles and barrels – 600 roubles. All-in-all, this will amount to approximately 25000 – 27000 roubles. And this is an average equipment set. A more decent set will cost a lot more. On top of that, one will require calibrated barrels (+3000), a Kevlar air tank (+4000 to add to the 3000 calculated above), a speed feed for the feeder etc.

Laser tag – prices for a blasters used for renting out start from 14000 roubles. It gives an effective range of up to 200 metres. Scope prices start from 500 roubles. The remaining cost covers the special atmosphere and the attractive look, comfort (wireless connection to defeat sensors) or for far greater effective range (sniper rifles and machine guns). No one will stop you from assembling your own blaster using a special electronic kit and the outer shell, thus getting the look you need, the size and shape of weapon for less money. You could buy a VSS or a Dragunov sniper rifle, or would you rather go for an AK with an underbarrel grenade launcher?


Paintball – to rent a marker, you need to pay 200 – 300 roubles. You will also need to buy balls – normally 1.5 roubles each. For a two hour game, you will need approximately 200 – 300 balls. An experienced player with own electronic marker does not have to pay for the rent and buys balls at lower price – usually 80 kopecks per ball. But he fires a lot more. He fires more shots to dominate and win on the field. He easily spends a box of balls per game and a couple of boxes per tournament. Taking into consideration that an experienced player participates in games twice a month, he spends round 40000 roubles per year. This amount does not include spending on participation, air, etc. Remember – how often did experienced players leave a game undamaged just because had run out of money to buy more balls?

Laser tag – to rent equipment for 2 hours will cost you 400 – 500 roubles. This is for a weapon and an outfit. Clearly, there is nothing else you need. Even grenades and mines are reusable. If you have your own blaster, all you will need to pay for is a minimum entry fee. For 1500 you will be able to join a three-day event, which includes meals, stay at organizers’ tents and participation in a game of combat tanks and helicopters. THAT’S IT! You will also need to pay for charging your blaster … well, that’s nothing really.


Paintball – after a game the outfit is so heavily soiled that you will be able to use it again only after you wash it. Besides, this outfit is only good for paintball. For a game, you will have to bring a mask, an air tank, extra clothing, barrels etc.

Laser tag – you can wear any comfortable clothes for a game, for example, a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. It only depends on you how dirty it gets. Every time that I am getting ready for a game I find myself thinking – I must have forgotten something – my bag is too small.

I am not going to write anything about game tactics – there is one and it does differ from paintball. One thing to say – an experienced paintball player will feel like a beginner. I dare not say that paintball has no right to be – laser tag is different and is well worth playing! Anyway, I get the emotions I crave for!!!

Laser tag is a new game and it is developing at a fast pace! There are still so many exciting things to come! One can hardly predict the level of development for the next year, this may be something breathtaking… New types of rifles, new firmware updates keep being released, new defeat sensors, new ideas.