history of Laser Tag

Everything you need to know about the history of Laser Tag

A lot of people love laser tag, but how how do we know about the The history of Laser Tag? Texas businessman George Carter, inspired by the laser fights in Star Wars, opened the first Photon arcade in Dallas in 1984. The smoke, the lights, the sound effects, the receptors that recorded hits – it was totally awesome. Photon arenas were franchised across the country, with the home version hitting stores in 1985.

Watch this early Laser Tag Commercial

Here’s a clip from the very obscure, very short-lived, very terrible Photon TV series, which was about aliens and how some teens had to fight them off with their toy lasers or something. Despite this epic premise, the whole thing was clearly shot at a lesser Photon arena, then syndicated to low-wattage UHF stations around the country.

Watch this intro and outro the Photon TV Series

Here the history of Laser Tag would take a dramatic turn. Photon was clearly the Betamax to Worlds of Wonder’s Lazer Tag’s VHS. That company came out with its own much sleeker, much more popular Lazer Tag in 1986. Also making it better? It spelled laser with a Z. It also had a show, but this one was a cartoon called Lazer Tag Academy. Like many ’80s cartoons, it was designed to sell toys, as well as boost admission to the real Lazer Tag Academy, which, sadly, did not exist.

Watch Lazer Tag Academy


The fad was over by 1988. Worlds of Wonder went bankrupt that year, and the Photon chain closed in 1989. As arcades closed and video games went homebound, the opposite happened with laser tag – it left the home and went public, occupying the empty spaces left by arcades, many to this day. And honestly, playing laser tag in a fiberglass and Styrofoam dungeon while Daft Punk blares overhead is a bit more fun than dodging my mom’s glass animal collection.

The infamous “Secret Agent” Lazer Tag Commercial

Brian Boone

From the middle of nowhere in the Pacific Northwest, I contribute to the Retroist, write for trivia publications, and blog about music in a humorous fashion. I feel about "Back to the Future" the way you feel about "Star Wars." Also, I'm married and have a child (sorry ladies, orphans).

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4 thoughts on “Everything you need to know about the history of Laser Tag

  1. Brian says:

    Wow… I had two Lazer Tag sets… I remember spending over $100 on them, which was a gawdawfulhuge amount of money for me at 13. bought two sets (gun, vest w/ sensor) and the super-duper Lazer Tag book. I’m pretty sure I still have the book.. not so sure about the guns. Might have a sensor, though, for all the good that does. I so wanted the hat.

    The sad thing is, I didn’t really find anyone to play it with. And it was hard to run around with this heavy sensor velcroed to your chest as it constantly felt like it was going to fall off. But I did run around shooting targets in my living room, so it wasn’t a total loss. Unless it was.

  2. Ugly American says:

    We had allot of fun playing Photon, Lazer Tag & UltraZone back in the day.

    Also Virtual World / BattleTech.

    PaintBall can be fun too but so many people cheat without electronic score keeping that it doesn’t reward skillful play.

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