Outdoor urban laser tag aims to revive nightlife, ‘offer fun’ in downtown Phoenix

Shaughn Dwyer, 41, aims his gun during the trial run of Phazer Tag, an urban laser-tag game created by Bill and Belinda Miceli that uses downtown Phoenix as its battleground. (Mauro Whiteman/DD)

Music blared from the Rose & Crown pub as three adults and two ASU freshmen ran through the park nearby carrying guns — neon-colored laser guns, that is. The five were the first official group to try Phazer Tag on its opening night, Jan. 11.

Phazer Tag, created by Phoenix couple Bill and Belinda Miceli, is an outdoor urban laser-tag game. Participants pay $10 for two five-minute rounds of laser tag in any outdoor area within downtown Phoenix.

“It’s kind of like feeling like a kid again playing hide-and-go-seek,” said Shaughn Dwyer, one of the participants. “I had fun, and I’d do it again.”

The game time is determined by the players. People who want to play call Phazer Tag, and Bill and Belinda come out with their equipment.

“We’ll be out every night as long as there are people to play,” Belinda said. “If we can make things happen on a Monday night, that’s great.”

The urban laser-tag idea came after Belinda’s family looked online and found the game to be popular in England and Finland, Belinda said. The Micelis wanted to do “something simple and brand new” instead of going back to their old, separate jobs.

“We love downtown Phoenix, and we want fun things to happen here,” Bill said. “We hope these games offer fun in downtown, make people feel safe in the streets by people having fun, and have ASU students join and leave their video games. Get out of the dorm.”

The two started this business after their aquarium-manufacturing company waned. The goal of dispelling visitors’ fear of Phoenix at night and reviving the city’s nightlife became their primary occupation. The Micelis have 12 neon-painted paintball guns, retrofitted for laser tag, along with yellow and orange vests for competitors.

“We like working together and wanted to do something fun,” Belinda said. “This helps bring businesses back and keep people. If this doesn’t work, we got some laser guns to play with our grandkids.”

After talking to ASU and Phoenix police, the Micelis were told Phazer Tag could take place at most outside spaces in the downtown area. They are talking with private and recreational centers for permission to play there in the future. They hope to expand the game to incorporate teams and prizes.

A few Downtown Phoenix Ambassadors along with the Micelis’ son and friends played a trial game on Jan. 4 at Civic Space Park in preparation for the opening night on Jan. 11.

“Everyone should try it out at least once,” ambassador Chuck Padilla said. “Anyone who likes an adrenaline rush, being with friends or team building.”

Phazer Tag is free for anyone willing to join tonight at Civic Space Park. The event will last from 6 to 7 p.m.

Contact the reporter at alicia.m.canales@asu.edu