Laser tag is a lot like a game of hide-and-seek, tag, and capture-the-flag all at once. It’s usually presented as a kind of fantasy or sci-fi scenario. The game lasts about 20 minutes at most locations and is usually split into four parts, which include briefing, vesting, game and results, or score. If you didn’t get enough from our first history of laser tag exploration, then read on.
From Star Wars to ShadowLand
The history of laser tag began in 1979. Since its creation (set off by the Star Trek Electronic Phasers toy from Milton Bradley), laser tag has come a very, very long way. Laser tag can be played by children and parents, by people of any and all ages. It also comes “pain-free,” when compared with an activity like paintball, since the player isn’t actually hit with any projectiles.
In late 1970s and early ’80s, the United States Army deployed a system using infrared beams for combat training. The system is a lot like laser tag; you hit others with laser beams fired from your phaser. A lot of companies and armed forces across the globe now utilize a similar system for training.
A man named George Carter started to design an arena-based game in 1982, which was actually inspired by his watching of Episode IV of the Star Wars franchise. The original center, called Photon, opened its doors in Dallas in March of 1984. The man himself was given an award for his contributions, and to this day he is known as the inventor and founder of laser tag.
To bring the experience home, the first toys released by the Photon centers were released to the public in 1986. At the same time, a number of competitors released their own versions of the toy, but all of them suffered bad business fairly quickly and went under. Worlds of Wonder, another facility, went out of business around 1988, and Photon followed in 1989. Bringing the experience home was not enough to sustain business as most people’s houses are not well-suited to double as a laser tag arena. This is not where the history of laser tag stops, though…
The first ShadowLand opened in November 1997 in Columbia MD. Having partnered with DarkLight Developments in the UK, from the outset, ShadowLand employed revolutionary state-of-the-art technology that introduced real-time play to the activity. All players were now in continuous, direct contact (via radio control) to a central games computer that tracked and fed back information about the game status to all players. This discontinuity in the technology allowed ShadowLand to consider their offering not just laser tag, but ‘laser adventure’. Players could earn ‘power-ups’ during the experience including invisibility (lights on your suit switch off), invulnerability (protection from being tagged), dark thief (transferring other players’ enhancements to you), and nebulizer (broad-based, short range, 360 degree tagging of all players in your vicinity). Having this new hardware and software platform, ShadowLand could offer its participants a large number of games scripts to provide diversity of experience. Since 1997, ShadowLand has expanded now provides unique, exciting, energetic experiences in five locations in the Baltimore-DC region.
The laser tag industry itself? After George Carter opened Photon in 1984, 2 million people had played in the first three years alone and the company had grown to 45 locations open or under construction. One of these was nearby in Dundalk, Maryland. Today, there are dozens of laser tag systems manufacturers in the world and over 1,000 arenas across North America with more opening each month.
If you want to experience our unique gameplay, then come visit or contact the ShadowLand Adventures nearest you by clicking here today!