When playing video games, players want to become immersed in a digital experience that reflects real. Vic Pellegrini, a 2009 Rutgers alumnus, was able to bring combat video games to life with an outdoor laser tag company.
Pellegrini played both video games and laser tag growing up. As his interests began to grow, and after hours of research and planning, Pellegrini realized he could bring video games into real life and bridge the gap between his two pastimes.
And he did just that with a Flemington, N.J.-based business called "Bullseye Virtual Combat." The business is a state-of-the-art tactical laser tag experience, which is customized to the needs of each group that comes to play, Pellegrini said in an email.
“We can create a two-hour party for clubs who want to do team building or a month-long tournament series to see who is the best fraternity on campus,” he said.
He said anything that can be played in a video game can be recreated on the field.
Players use AR-15 replicas on the field, which provide authentic recoil from CO2 charged magazines and makes the experience unique. These magazines can be reloaded, similarly to an actual firearm.
“Reloading and recoil is what takes this laser tag experience to uncharted territories,” he said. “The days of clunky space themed laser tag are over and the new realistic weapons and games have arrived.”
Pellegrini designed the courses on the field along with a video game designer who had experience in creating virtual battlefields.
“While I believe I would have eventually built a great field through trial and error, trying to do it all on my own would have been done at the cost of the first customer’s experience,” he said.
Working with a video game designer gave him the opportunity to truly bring “video games in real life."
Pellegrini and the designer built the course using plywood walls. Although it does not change on a day-to-day basis, the games are customized for any level of play or team.
“We have a menu which offers a wide variety of game concepts, which also allows returning players to get a new experience anytime they come out and join us,” Pellegrini said.
Pellegrini favorite part of working at a laser tag company is watching a group of strangers work as a team.
“When your heart is pounding, and the sweat is beading on your forehead while you plan out your next move, it suddenly doesn’t matter whether your teammate is someone you’ve known your whole life, or someone you met five minutes ago,” he said.
To Pellegrini, this is proof that this is an experience people can lose themselves in.
The Cook College alumnus said opening a business has been rewarding, but also stressful and expensive.
While taking the first step was terrifying, Pellegrini said he always reminded himself to work on the next step rather than letting the big picture overwhelm him.
“It’s an indescribable feeling when something that started out as a simple idea starts to become real,” he said. “To have created an experience that you see people enjoying right in front of your eyes, makes every sleepless night and every penny spent worth it.”
He also learned about stress management, but used his past experience as a police dispatcher to manage stressful circumstances.
“The stress of running your own business can easily find its way to every aspect of your life,” he said.
Although Pellegrini said getting the business up and running was stressful, he plans to expand Bullseye Virtual Combat.
“We would like to expand into a warehouse-type setting, where we can build a cusome city indoors as our battlefield,” he said.
He plans to add more equipment, which in turn could lead to a wider variety of games for players to choose.
“Those things will come with time, and with the ideas I already have, plus feedback from my already loyal customers, I am so excited for what the future holds from Bullseye Virtual Combat,” he said.
Sophie Nieto-Munoz is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in journalism and media studies and Italian. She is an associate news editor for The Daily Targum. You can find her on Twitter @snietomunoz for more.
Faith Hoatson is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in linguistics and French literature. She is a correspondent for The Daily Targum.