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What To Be a Better CO? Think like a Coach


Take A Lesson out of a Sports Coach's Playbook

Be a Better C.O: Think Like A Coach

Live Games Cycle

By taking a lesson out of a coach’s play-book you can be a more effective live gaming Commanding Officer (C.O.). 

A good C.O. has to juggle many roles: 

  • planning, 
  • briefing the games, 
  • running the games and 
  • reviewing how it all went.

There is a cycle in live gaming. Part one is preparation and planning, part two is mission briefing, part three is running the live gaming, and part four is the after-action review.

coach - CO

Roles of the Coach

A C.O has to wear many hats such as game master and gatekeeper. Just like being a sport’s team coach, a C.O often has to perform many roles such as:

  • a teacher - Gamers need instructions on rules, techniques, and strategies
  • a motivator -  A good C.O. is a positive confident approach that helps lift the excitement.
  • a disciplinarian - Gamers want the game to be fair and properly run.   They understanding cheating or anti-social behavior can damage everyone’s experience.
  • an organizer - Organizer junior staff, much like the senior coach organizers the assistant coaches and organizing the gamers and games.
  • a Public Relations officer - This may well be communicating with the site manager to get the best possible location while maintaining a positive relationship with other groups especially as many Battlefield venues are shared.
  • a planner - A C.O has to be organized to plan events in advance, especially if this is a new mission or new battlefield.  Care must be taken to ensure all the materials required are on hand and in serviceable condition.
  • a student -  A continuous learning process is required by the C.O.  With feedback from the gamers and other experienced C.O’s, performance can be improved.  New training materials and technology from Battlefield Sports should be learned and as appropriate incorporated into sessions
  • a risk manager -  Coaches understand that any sport activity carries some injury risk, however, it is the coach's (and C.O.) role to minimize this risk.  

In the case of live gaming, this includes ensuring the battlefield (playing area) has no hazards, the participants are wearing the correct outfits, proper safety instructions are provided as part of the briefing and staff supervise the games to ensure the safety rules are followed.

Experience has shown that the best C.O’s often come from a successful sport’s team coaching background since the skills are highly transferable.  The technical skills required to run a Battlefield LIVE session are relatively easily learned.

Coach's Code of Behavior 

The Australian Sports commission national coaching accreditation scheme code of behavior has many relevant elements to a professional live gaming C.O.:

  • Promote fair play over winning any cost.
  • Support opportunities for participation.
  • Treat each gamer as an individual.
  • Display control and courtesy to all involved with your event.
  • Respect the rights and worth of every person, regardless of their gender, ability, cultural background or religion.
  • Whenever practical, avoid unaccompanied and unobserved one-on-one activity with people under the age of 18.
  • Ensure your decisions and actions contribute to a safer environment
  • Ensure your decisions and actions contribute to a harassment-free environment
  • Do not tolerate harmful or abusive behaviors.
  • Place the safety and welfare of gamers above all else.
  • Provide a positive supportive environment through positive feedback.
  • Any physical contact with a person should be appropriate to the situation and necessary. (In the context of playing laser tag try to avoid physical contact with the gamers and if required, ask permission first, such as helping them adjust their headbands.)
clan war winning team

PART 1: Prep & Plan

It takes planning a live gaming session before you can actually run the games.

Planning ahead helps the C.O make the session more enjoyable and thrilling for the gamers and more profitable for the battlefield operator.

Effective planning helps ensure the C.O. has all the required materiel needed in order to run good games. They need to:

  • provide a safe environment
  • maximize gamer participation/player engagement
  • provide a challenge given the make-up of the group
  • include all participants, regardless of their age and ability
  • maximize the fun for gamers so they can create happy and thrilling memories.

co cycle

The first step in the preparation and planning process is to understand the needs of the gamers.

If the session is for an 8-year-old boy's birthday party and the session will be full of youngsters then they will have different expectations and equipment mix, compared to a group of teens or young adults.

When someone calls to book an event of books online we ask the person what sort of event it is for.

We have 6 categories:

  1. Birthday Party
  2. Vacation Care / Summer Camp / School Group
  3. Corporate Team Building
  4. Youth Group / Young Adult
  5. Sports Team
  6. Other.

We also ask for the average age of the group, or the age of the birthday person. We also track, using the "Battlefield HQ" booking software how many times they have booked, so we can garner their skill level.

On-site the C.O can also glean the physical fitness levels of the group and the environmental factors such as weather (e.g. if it is very hot or very cold, or if it is raining) to influence how they manage the event.

The C.O also needs to be aware if there is any illness, disability, injury or medical condition that might impact on the gamer. Indeed, the C.O needs to do a site inspection to ensure that the battlefield is clear of hazards.

Part of the C.O being inclusive is to select the appropriate genre or semantics (appropriate language) depending on the group to be entertained. For example, is the group consists of elementary school-aged kids then the genre should Battlefield TAG. Or if the group is for teens or adults then consider using the Battlefield LIVE genre.

The SATR 3 series system has better support for duplicating the modern first-person shooter games and for older groups, we should take advantage of these features to deliver a better live gaming experience.

So, the terminology changes.

The Terminology Changes

Battlefield TAG  Battlefield LIVE
Reactivate or Respawn
Phaser   .Gaming Gun
Elimination  Team Death Match
Game   Mission
Red Team   Alpha Team
Blue Team   Bravo Team 

Change the Difficulty Level 

Another way to adjust the games to be inclusive is to change the difficulty settings. There are four options:

  • Easy
  • Standard
  • Hard
  • Legendary

During a two-hour event, we run four 15-minute games between two teams. Overall across the session, where is there the four rounds of games, the C.O. needs to strive to ensure that one team does not win all four rounds. Sometimes, one team needs a little boost. To handicap the other team the C.O. can adjust the difficulty levels or the hit rate.

clan war gamers

Instead of using the Set Difficulty level, a subtler change is COMMON SETTINGS -> HIT RATE. The lower the hit rate is, the harder for that team. Extremely hard is 0.1 hit rate. Only use Set Difficulty Level to Easy for young children.

Over the course of 4 missions, the goal is that each team wins at least 1 mission. 
Once a team has won one game, then all subsequent missions should be fair, no adjustment.
The following is the graduation to follow.

  • Mission 1 - No Adjustment
  • Mission 2 - Set the winning team to hit rate 0.5
  • Mission 3 - If the same team has won both the first two missions then set the winning team to hit rate 0.1
  • Mission 4 - If the same team has won all 3 missions so far, then set the losing team to hit rate 2.0 seconds.

We stipulate that every player who is under 18 needs to ask their Mum or Dad or carer to sign, and anyone over 18 can sign for themselves a membership form. This form gathers the name, address, contact details of every player and also is the insurance waiver so they are aware that there is some risk in patriating in an adventure activity.

Keeping accurate records is crucial in the case of an injury or an accident.
However, some types of events such as festival or village fairs might not need a signed disclaimer. The other element of preparation and planning is to ensure that the C.O. and his or her crew have all the materiel they need to effectively run the event. In other words, the C.O. needs to know that they have all the equipment, supplies, technology need to run the games. This includes the maintenance and charging of the gaming guns and, in the case of mobile laser tag, the fleet management for transporting the crew to an event.

Part 2: Mission Briefing

There is a clear procedure that C.O needs to follow when starting a laser tag event; from set-up, registration of gamers, mission briefing, to the specific game briefing. On arrival a mobile laser tag event, the C.O, and crew needs to unpack and set up the equipment prior to the gamers arriving.

When the players do arrive, they need to be "enlisted" or registered for the event, this includes taking any cash for tickets and collecting the membership forms. Next, the gamers are checked for long pants and covered shoes, and if needed issued with camouflage outfit rental. 

gamer with P90

Then the gamers get issued the gaming guns so they can start playing with the equipment so they can get used to the gear. This is before the official games start. It is part of promoting the "games-sense" or in other words, promoting learning by doing and gamer engagement approach. 

The C.O just like a sports coach needs to have the qualities of adaptability, patience, and respect. They need to have the knowledge of being a game master of live games as well as skills in safe practices and be very organized. There are several video examples of the mission briefing in the Battlefield Sports University.

The missions aim to provide lots of action (value) with exciting games that are very close. It is also important to give people the right level of challenge. When the C.O. is ready to commence the briefing he or she can issue the "pause" so all the gamers' equipment will automatically pause.

The briefing consists of two parts:
  •  general briefing
  •  game briefing.

The general briefing covers topics such as:

  • Welcome & Introductions
  • Safety & field boundaries
  • How to use the laser tag guns including getting hit, shooting, aiming, respawning, understanding the screen and statistics.

The game briefing explains the specific games to be played in that event.

Part 3: Live Games

With SATR3 there are literally hundreds of games to select from.

However, there are a few basic games that are tried and tested for certain types of groups. If most of the kids are aged 6-8 years old, keep it very simple, just run first a pair of Elimination games.

Then if they are handling that ok, run a single point Domination Game.

If the kids are aged 9-11, run Electronic Capture the Flag for the first 2 games and then run 2 Domination games. If the numbers are over 20, run 3-point Domination.

gamers playing laser tag


With Battlefield Tag do not use perks, mystery armor or mystery box.

If there is an older age group always start with electronic capture the flag with a perk box for each team. Generally, the 2nd hour should be 2 x 15-minute advanced Team Death Match or Rush missions.

However, in hot weather or an unfit group, just two x Domination missions are a good idea. With Domination, if adequate Domination boxes on hand and there are 20 or more players, then play 3-point Domination mission. This is better than one point for larger groups.

Depending on the terrain and if it is an older group then another alternative is the V.I.P Escort. With the VIP escort mission make the weaker team the ambush team.

  • HOUR 1
  • • 2 x 15min Electronic Capture the Flag  
  • HOUR 2
  • • 2 x 15min Rush
  • • 2 x 15min Advanced Death Match (preferred)
  • • 2 x 15min Domination (hot weather)
  • • 2 x Heist (played before, something new)
  • • 1 x 30min VIP Escort (Corporate teams) 

Playing different games keeps up the interest of the players, enables them gamers to use their skills, and enables tactical awareness and decision-making.

At the end of each round, the C.O can use his or her Master Controller to issue a sound effect - such as "Alpha Team is Victorious" so players know who won.

Part 4: After Action Review

Depending on the time-table of the session, a C.O can undertake an after-action review. This could be as simple as asking gamers if they had a fun time as they return their equipment and/or camo outfits.

For a corporate team building activity, C.Os might offer a more thorough review. With SATR3, C.Os can get team results in real-time on the Controller screen.  

kids playing laser tag

C.O.s can check on medic box status (for the elimination or team deathmatch results) and the flag boxes (for capture the flag game results) and vault boxes (for the heist game results). 

The overall goal of the C.O is to ensure that every gamer leaves feeling better, happier than before they started the live gaming session. That goal is epitomized in our motto "every game, every gamer".

Bottom Line on The Coach C.O

A C.O’s job can be complex, but it is also enjoyable helping, coaching gamers towards a memorable event.

If a live gaming C.O can plan, brief, run and review games just like a sports coach then they will be well on the way to building a fantastic live gaming business.