Soldiers of the 2e REI training with laser tag equipment
|Nickname(s)||Lazer tag, Lasertag, lasergames, Laser Skirmish|
|Contact||No physical contact between players (contact can result in penalties)|
|Team members||Varies depending on game format and level of play (recreational or professional)|
|Categorization||Indoor or Outdoor|
|Equipment||Laser guns and targets worn by players|
Laser tag is a team or individual sport or recreational activity where players attempt to score points by tagging targets, typically with a hand-held infrared-emitting targeting device. Infrared-sensitive targets are commonly worn by each player and are sometimes integrated within the arena in which the game is played. Since its birth in 1979, with the release of the Star Trek Electronic Phasers toy manufactured by the South Bend Electronics brand of Milton Bradley, laser tag has evolved into both indoor and outdoor styles of play, and may include simulations of combat, role play-style games, or competitive sporting events including tactical configurations and precise game goals.
Laser tag is popular with a wide range of ages. When compared to paintball, laser tag is painless because it uses no physical projectiles, and indoor versions may be considered less physically demanding because most indoor venues prohibit running or roughhousing.
- 1 History
- 2 Game mechanics
- 3 Specialty games
- 4 Equipment and technology
- 5 Competitions and Tournaments
- 6 Las Vegas, NV - 2013 United States Nationals Results
- 7 Non-Commercial Clubs & Events
- 8 German law
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
In late 1970s and early '80s, the United States Army deployed a system using infrared beams for combat training. The MILES system functions like laser tag in that beams are "fired" into receivers that score hits. Similar systems are now manufactured by several companies and used by various armed forces around the world.
In 1982, George Carter III began the process of designing an arena-based system for playing a scored version of the game, a possibility which had initially occurred to him in 1977 while watching the film Star Wars. The Grand Opening for the first Photon center in Dallas, Texas on March 28, 1984. Carter was honored by the International Laser Tag Association on November 17, 2005 for his contribution to the laser tag industry. The award is engraved "Presented to George A. Carter III in recognition for being the Inventor and Founder of the laser tag industry".
In 2010, a news article appeared claiming that Lee Weinstein developed and opened the first commercial laser tag facility. In June, 2011, the ILTA posted the results of a public record request from the City of Houston showing the opening date for Weinstein's "Star Laser Force" to have been April 16, 1985.
In 1986, the first Photon toys hit the market, nearly simultaneously with the Lazer Tag toys from Worlds of Wonder and several other similar infrared and visible light-based toys. Worlds of Wonder went out of business around 1988, and Photon soon followed in 1989, as the fad of the games wore off. Today there are laser tag arenas all over the world bearing various names and brands, as well as a large variety of consumer equipment for home play and professional grade equipment for outdoor laser tag arenas and businesses.
Laser tag systems vary widely in their technical capabilities and their applications. The game mechanics in laser tag are closely linked to the hardware used, the communication capabilities of the system, the embedded software that runs the equipment, the integration between the player's equipment and devices in the facility, the environment, and the configuration of the software that runs the equipment.
The resulting game play mechanics can result in anything from the highly realistic combat simulation used by the military to fantasy scenarios inspired by science fiction and video games.
Rate of fire, objectives, effects of being tagged, the amount of lives, and other parameters can often be altered on the fly to provide for varied game play.
Along with standard team or solo matches, where one team or individuals try to tag the members of the other team or players repetitively, many laser tag venues will feature specialty matches. These matches vary based on equipment manufacturer and the level of technology of the system. Often they have various objectives and missions and demonstrate the technological capability of each system.
Specialty games include:
Capture the flag – This where a player steals the opponents flag and takes it back to their own base in order to score a point or win the match (depending on score system).
Protect the VIP – The team with the VIP must hide and conceal him for a set length of time while the opposing team tries to eliminate the VIP within the given time limit.
Stealth or Invisibility matches – Where the lights indicating a player's target sensors are deactivated.
Base-centric matches – where a team must defend a base while simultaneously attacking the opponent's base. Many prominent laser tag game systems, including LASERTRON, LaserBlast and Zone utilize this game format.
"Borg" matches – where players on a team share a pool of commonly held resources.
Juggernaut Matches - One player is allocated as the 'juggernaut' and gains points for staying as the juggernaut. Other players attempt to eliminate this player and thus become the juggernaut themselves. Similar to Domination-style games.
Elimination matches – where a player can become eliminated if tagged a certain number of times.
Domination Matches – where a player gains points for possessing a field target for certain lengths of time.
Equipment and technology
At their core, laser tag systems typically use infrared signaling to track firing of the laser. In indoor play, a visible laser combined with theatrical fog typically provide the visual effect of firing, while having no actual role in transmitting the fire signal.
In all but the most basic of systems, the infrared signal sent by the laser when it fires is encoded with information such as the identity of the pack from which it originated. This coding allows for scoring and may also act to discourage interference from unauthorized devices in the playing area.
Indoor laser tag is typically played in a large arena (may be dark or may not) run by a commercial laser tag operator. The packs are tightly integrated with the devices inside the arena. The arena devices, and the packs themselves may be linked into a control computer for scoring and control over game parameters using radio equipment or infrared links. The game computer often serves to control other game effects and to manage player scores.
The dimensions of an indoor laser tag arena makes for close quarters, so there is a large design focus on performance and game play under these conditions.
Outdoor laser tag equipment reflects design concerns that are different from indoor equipment. The equipment is generally expected to function well at longer ranges, even in daylight, so higher output power and specially designed optics are often a requirement. The units themselves are normally constructed of machined aluminum or a poly-carbonated plastic to withstand the abuse the outdoors brings. Players usually wear lightweight head sensors to receive hits. Operators typically either run games like indoor laser tag where you count the number of times you tag other players, or scenarios often approximate real-world combat, or a laser tag version of paintball games. Many paintball fields are adding laser tag to attract and groom players who are too young to play paintball. Some theme parks are adding outdoor laser tag facilities.
Competitions and Tournaments
Competitions and tournaments are staged for local, regional/state, inter-regional, national, bi-lateral international, and international levels.
Las Vegas, NV - 2013 United States Nationals Results
- Team Comp
- 1st- S.M.A.S.H
- 2nd- San Diego / Ace
- 3rd- Baltimore
- 4th - Vegas
- 5th - Hawaii
- Team Elim
- 1st- S.M.A.S.H
- 2nd- San Diego / Ace
- 3rd - Baltimore
- 4th- Vegas
- 5th- Hawaii
- 1st- S.M.A.S.H
- 2nd- Baltimore
- 3rd- San Diego / Ace
- 4th - Vegas
- 5th - Hawaii
- 1st- Snoopy
- 2nd- Im not Psycho
- 3rd - Slick
- 1st - Snoopy/Slick/Triggahappy
- 2nd - Crescent/Ecko/Im Not Psycho
- 3rd - Ace/ Dot / Blaze
- 1st - Legends (USA)
- 2nd - Finland 1 (FIN)
- 3rd - Finland 4 (FIN)
- Team Eliminator
- 1st - Legends (USA)
- 2nd - Finland 1 (FIN)
- 3rd - TAPSA (FIN)
- 4th - Aus Boom (AUS)
- LoR ("Lord of the Rings")
- 1st - Snoopy (USA)
- 2nd - DoT (USA)
- 3rd - Sevron (USA)
- 1st - Plaag & jor (FIN)
- 2nd - Cyber & Slick (USA)
- 3rd - Homicide & Punisher (USA)
- 1st - Assassin (USA)
- 2nd - 1-Plaag (FIN)
- 3rd - Sinclair (AUS)
The 2011 International Championships are being held in Syracuse, NY, America. The dates for these events are the 5/11/2011 - 11/11/2011.
The Armageddon cross-system tournament format was created in 2000 and is hosted yearly as a tournament that did not rely on a specific set of equipment or arena, for teams to play. The US Armageddon tournament typically judges cross-system teams on 10 different systems over the course of several days. The UK, Swedish, and Russian versions of the Armageddon tournament are typically smaller scale to the American one.
The location and route of the tournaments is traditionally varied every couple of years to provide a more varied scope to the equipment and arenas that are a part of the tournament.
Bi-lateral international championships have included:
- USA v Australia
- Australia v South Africa
National tournaments are conducted in various countries, including:
Regional and local
Individual Laser Tag systems often develop active tournament scenes. Unfortunately, due to the business practice of manufacturers not owning sites, these scenes tend to last only a few years and are player-organized and run.[original research?] Ultrazone, when it had corporate-owned sites, ran tournaments up until about 2000. Laser Quest, with corporately-owned sites across North America, have operated the North American Challenge (or NAC for short) since 1995 and many local tournaments throughout the year. Laserforce has also maintained an international tournament scene for many years. LaserTron has also supported a tournament program for the past three years.
LaserStorm may have the most successful tournament scene, as they have regularly held ongoing regional tournaments in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Colorado, Michigan, Florida, Kansas, California, Wisconsin, and New York for the past decade. The "LaserStorm National Championship" is entering its 16th consecutive year (2012), with the best teams from those regions traveling to one chosen host site every summer for a week long tournament to crown the yearly National Champions, and the best player in the country. The most recent Laser Storm National Tournament took place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in July 2011, with Pennsylvania team "Extreme Dump Truck On Fire" taking the 1st place title. This was the 15th annual national-level Laser Storm tournament. Florida still holds the record for the most undefeated wins in any national laser storm tournament.
Darkzone (the Australian name for Ultrazone) has recently had its 10th annual National tournament also cementing it as one of the most stable competitions running in the world.
Non-Commercial Clubs & Events
Around the world clubs have come and gone with the different eras of one brand or another becoming popular and then fading again. The early Worlds of Wonder, or 'WoW', Lazer Tag brand gear sparked up clubs around the world and inspired development of other gear that is still in use today. Laser Challenge and Electronic Survivor Shot also inspired many clubs to form in the US. More recently the Lazer Tag Team Ops gear by Hasbro sparked multiple clubs across the United States. Home made or "Do it yourself" DIY gear has also been popular. In the U.K. the WoW signature is still in use by many clubs today, however much of the gear is manufactured by club individuals from scratch. In the US, Miles Tag was created as a DIY gear which was adopted by other clubs such as the Australian group that calls their gear FragTag. Although many clubs, and there events, there are a few events that have become large enough to stand the test of time. Among these are:
- TagCon, UK - Annual event bringing together multiple clubs together for skirmishes and workshops.
- Dropzone, UK - Annual event, with themed Live Action Role Play adventures where the storyline is the key element and Laser Tag gear is used as a means to resolve conflicts.
- LaserStorm, AU - Annual themed event that has multiple days of military simulation.
- TagCon Midwest, USA - Annual event hosted by clubs from the midwest with the backing of Steradian Tech.
- Tagfest Northwest, USA - Annual event that draws in mostly members from clubs all over the northwest and other alumni members from as far away as the country of Bermuda.
There are Laser Tag groups across the globe in many countries. Most clubs have some sort of site taking advantage of tools on sites like Yahoo, Google, Facebook, and Meetup, and a few have websites of their own. The largest most international website in the community is LaserForums.com. There is also a community wiki site, appropriately named www.lasertagwiki.com.
In March 2009, upon the Winnenden school shooting, the German government announced that it would ban games such as laser tag and paintball, claiming that they trivialize and encourage violence. It later retracted this assertion.
- Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System, the Federation of American Scientists Military Analysis Network, accessed 13 November 2006
- TagFerret's Laser Tag History Page, a historical reference to consumer laser tag product from a toy industry insider.
- History of Laser Tag, International Laser Tag Association, accessed 17 September 2006
- Zone World Championship Tournament (English language; main site Finnish language), Megazone Finland, accessed 2009-05-10
- announcement and details, Zone 3 - ACT, accessed 2009-05-10
- Zone World Laser Tag Championships 2009, accessed 2009-06-06
- LaserTron World Championships, LaserTron World Championships, accessed 28 October 2007
- "Germany moves to outlaw paintball". BBC News. 9 May 2009.