Watch Laser Tag's Inventor Explain Its 'Star Wars' Influence

Inventor George Carter saw the laser battles in the 1977 film and decided to make them more real.
November 19, 2016, 6:00pm

Star Wars remains amazing, of course, but it's hard to imagine how magical it must have seemed in 1977 as stormtroopers and rebel soldiers traded laser fire moments before Darth Vader swished on stage. As CNN's Great Big Story reminds us in a new video, one person who walked away inspired by the sight was Texan George Carter, who went on to invent what we now generally refer to as "laser tag."

Carter's system was called "Photon," and first appeared in 1984 as an indoor arena in a Dallas suburb with multiple levels and mazes. The brand 'Lazer Tag' came later, and Carter has said elsewhere that he regrets not fighting for the name after his lawyer discouraged it as too generic. I actually got a Photon set as a Christmas present after they became available to the public in 1986, and remember loving it even though the 15-pound combination of helmet, chest target, and gun made running around as a kid a bit awkward.

The video shows some early Photon artwork, as well as Carter himself looking a bit annoyed by some of the questions. Carter also spoke with The Dallas Morning News in 2014, where he gave a bit more insight into how he made the leap from Star Wars to laser tag.

"Watching scenes of them running up and down the hallways of the spaceships looked like fun," Carter said at the time. "It's the same game little boys have been playing forever—cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers. 'I shot you.' 'No, you didn't.' And then the game would end because nobody could keep score. I thought it would be a great game for the amusement business if you could keep score.'"