Ready, aim, fire in the name of fun
If you want a little action and excitement over the summer, war games are a fun option, writes Miranda Yeung
Dressed in combat gear, team members load their machine guns, hide in the bushes and wait silently.
When they see their enemies approaching, they open fire - but no blood is shed.
This is an almost daily scenario in the otherwise peaceful countryside of Tai Tong, Yuen Long. War games are becoming increasingly popular, despite the drawbacks.
'War games are exhausting. You have to wear a mask and carry a gun and 2,000 BB bullets while running in the sun. Sometimes the players have to run up and down hills,' says John Shea Chun-wai, an instructor at S-3, a war games facility. 'And getting shot really hurts and leaves you bruised.
'Many first-timers say they'll never play again at the end of the day. But they always come back. The game is extremely exciting.'
There are different types of game. One is 'protecting the VIP' - one side has to escort a chosen team member to a particular location, while the other team does everything in their power to stop them.
Another requires the two teams to fight for a flag located in the middle of the battlefield.
The games require strong teamwork and co-operation. Usually a team leader is selected to plan combat strategies.
The easiest - and most popular - strategy is simply to eliminate all enemies.
The six war zones at S-3, each with an area of more than 140,000 square feet, allow for different game themes.
Most of the zones are outdoor fields which resemble battlefields, although there are also street scenes and indoor set-ups.
Instructors plan the types of games according to the players' preferences and abilities.
'I always get the energetic kids running around in a larger field,' says Mr Shea.
As soon as you are shot, you're 'dead'. Dead players have to raise their hands, leave the field and wait until the next game starts.
'In non-rainy seasons, we get 1,000 to 2,000 players every month. Most of them are on company outings and come here to have some fun,' says Lau Shing-lam, another S-3 employee. 'During weekends, we have players coming in small groups. It's a different way to make friends, as strangers become teammates and work together.'
War games are suitable for people aged seven to 70.
'We have insurance for all players. Besides, instructors explain the safety rules before the game starts, and we punish those who break the rules. The games are not only about shooting people,' says Mr Shea.
'They help players develop self-discipline.'
A day of war games costs HK$280, which includes equipment and lunch. Call S-3 at 2374 1611 for more information.