Laser tag is a physical, interactive game in which participants use plastic guns that emit an infrared light to tag their opponents. Players wear a vest or similar covering that contains an infrared sensitive signaling device that registers when they are “hit” by an opponent’s laser.

The popular sporting activity was developed by the US Army in the late 1970s as a combat training exercise, but it wasn’t long before the technology was adapted into toy form. In 1979, the Star Trek Electronic Phaser Guns, the first toy with an infrared light and sensor, was created to coincide with Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Then another science fiction franchise inspired the scoring version of the game.

After seeing Star Wars in 1977, George Carter III imagined creating a game where people could play with non-lethal blasters. He started developing the competitive, arena-set game in 1982, and two years later the first Photon center was opened in Dallas.

Photon toy guns and Worlds of Wonders’ Lazer Tag, along with other light-based toys, started seeing release for at-home play in 1986. While the infrared light based toys were popular upon their release, that fervor fizzled out in just a few years. Worlds of Wonder closed in ’88, and Photon followed a year later.

Even though the demand for at-home laser tag ended, kids and adults alike have continued to enjoy the game in arena play at arcades and sports complexes.