Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Behold the story of man’s greatest invention: Laser tag

Screenshot: Thank Star Wars For Laser Tag

The lightbulb, the printing press, the internal combustion engine—all of these so-called revolutionary inventions pale in comparison to man’s greatest triumph. Centuries from now, historians will remark how the trajectory of our species was forever changed once we gained the ability to shoot light guns at our friends in dark, fog-machine-clouded rooms in between bites of pizza and ice cream cake. The legacy of humanity—in addition to irreversible climate change—will undoubtedly be summed up in four simple words: Laser tag fuckin’ rules.

Now, thanks to the microdocumentary makers at Great Big Story, we have a chance to meet George Carter, who, in addition to inventing the motorized surfboard and the bumper boat, is credited with inventing the first commercial laser tag game in 1984.

After being inspired by the blaster rifles in Star Wars, Carter got to work on what he would eventually call Photon (apparently “laser tag” was too generic to copyright). In the original version of the game—which was targeted at an older demographic—each player was outfitted with a gun, chest target, and helmet and let loose in a dark, immersive warehouse of futuristic warfare. It wasn’t until years later when Photon toys hit the market that laser tag became the premier birthday attraction for 10-year-olds and the occasional 30-year-old in a trench coat. Still, the seed of Carter’s idea lives on in various forms in suburban strip malls across the country. For now, at least, the legacy of man endures.


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