SWAT team officers stormed the occupied warehouse, firing into the dark. They ducked for cover behind beams, barrels, and crates as the enemy returned fire. The enemy held the upper ground, and it quickly dawned on these officers that they were fighting a losing battle. Amid the sounds of combat, the squad leader called over a senior manager and asked him to tone down the difficulty—because the female laser-tag referees kept beating his squad.
Though Hard Knocks' skilled referees sometimes train local SWAT teams using laser tag, they also regulate matches between players of all ages in three indoor arenas spread across 30,000 square feet. As players fire, they duck behind cubicles, filing cabinets, and desks in a replicated office; dart through dining rooms, panic rooms, and kitchens in a replica suburban home; and battle inside a functional warehouse.
Players exchange infrared beams from a roster of replica guns, each designed to emulate real military weaponry in size, weight, and operation. Each gun blasts targets in limited rounds using eye-safe infrared light, a technology adapted from military combat simulations. Players test their marksmanship in 75 realistic laser-tag missions, some of which require them to practice espionage, defuse bombs, protect and rescue hostages, or chase squirrels out of their front yards. When not exchanging beams of light, players can engage in virtual melee or team skirmishes in a room filled with combat simulators or play pool and console video games in a 4,500-square-foot gaming lounge.