Kids-whether they’re 8 or 80-will never change. Nor will their ideas of fun. As we become more computerized, more hi-tech, we’ll just adapt our old ideas of fun to modern standards. Such is the case with Photon, a life-sized video game in which people are the subjects in a match of good vs. evil.
Photon, an amusement center opening March 9 in a large warehouse-type building on Northwest Highway, is the brainchild of George A. Carter, a local inventor of leisure products. Carter, who also opened the Dallas Chaparral race track, owns the patents on a motorized surfboard and an off-road vehicle called “the Snoopy.” Carter says that when he saw Star Wars, he was intrigued by the fight scenes with laser guns and decided to create a world in which laser combat comes alive.
In the middle of Photon (which cost $500,000 to build) is a large room (about 10,000 square feet) with eerie music, fog machines and bizarre lighting effects. Viewing balconies surround the room, and score-boards hang in various locations. To play the game, up to 20 people don helmets and chest plates with small computer control modules, and each player has a laserlike “gun.” Once the players’ gear is on and they are in position, two teams compete in a futuristic version of cops and robbers.
The game is monitored by a computer system that keeps track of who is shot by an infrared sensor (emitted from the gun) and who does the shooting. A player receives two points for hitting (or “stunning,” as Carter calls it) another player; he loses one point when he is hit. Each individual competes for the highest score, and each team tries to hit a target on the other team’s territory. When a player is hit, a small exploding sound goes off inside his helmet, and his gun is disarmed for 10 seconds. Each player’s points are continually updated on the various scoreboards, and each game lasts at least six minutes-longer if some players exceed set scores. The team with the highest score wins.
Before playing, you must buy a Photon identification card, which will supply the Photon computer with your name and Photon identification number. The computer will then be able to keep records of your scores whenever you visit Photon. Each game will cost $3, Carter says.
If Photon catches on as quickly as Carter believes it will, franchises should pop up across the nation. Carter already has plans to open more locations in Dallas, with a Houston Photon appearing in upcoming months.