Are you looking for a fun activity to do with your friends, family, or kids? Laser tag is an excellent option! It is relatively affordable, engaging and you can play as long or as little as you like. However, some people hesitate to play, wondering if it’s safe to play.
Can you get hurt playing laser tag?
Laser tag is generally a very safe game to play. The equipment used in laser tag (the laser guns and vests) does not cause any physical pain or harm. However, you can get hurt playing laser tag by tripping, slipping, falling, or accidentally colliding with other players or structures in the arena.
When it comes to active games, laser tag is probably one of the safer activities to play. It also happens to be insanely fun. But we might be biased…
Laser tag is a relatively safe game. Traditionally, laser tag is played inside an indoor arena that is supervised by adult staff who are always on the premises. The equipment used to play laser tag does not cause any pain or harm during use, and the maze of a laser tag arena does not generally contain any props or obstacles that could harm an individual.
Laser tag is a physically demanding sport, however, and risk of injury is always present when engaging in physical activity of any kind. In this regard, laser tag is no different.
However, unlike similar ‘gun tag’ games, like paintball, laser tag does not impose any bodily harm since the lights in the phasers cannot be felt. The risk involved in playing laser tag is the potential of falling, tripping, or colliding with other players.
Generally, these types of accidents can be avoided and do not usually result in serious injury.
When an individual plays ‘laser skirmish,’ which is outdoor laser tag, the potential for injury is higher depending on the location of the game. If one is attempting to play a more tactical or militarized version of laser tag and does so on uneven turf like a forest or in high-grass, injury is more likely to occur due to the unforeseen hazards on the chosen field.
Laser tag is safe to play in part because laser guns are not made with actual lasers. Instead, laser guns use infrared beams of amplified light. Each laser phaser possesses an emitter of collimated beams of infrared lights that are highly directional and stimulate emission radiation.
In other words: a laser tag gun should be thought of more like a flashlight or television remote, made in the shape of a gun, which uses super-thin, straight infrared lights that are uniquely programmed according to each player. The vests each player wears are simply infrared receivers that absorb the light rays and use optical reasoning to detect specific signals.
In a nutshell, the phasers shoot LED lights at vests and targets, which respond like a television does when the T.V. remote points at the right area, which reads the message sent from the remote.
I wrote about this in another article, you can read that here: Does Laser Tag Use Real Lasers?
Since actual lasers are dangerous when pointed in a person’s eye, laser phasers are made with the infrared light just mentioned above. Therefore, we are pleased to reassure you that nothing damaging will happen to someone’s eye while playing laser tag if you accidentally shine your laser tag gun in at another player’s eye.
However, if you were to hold another player down and mercilessly shine your fake-laser light into their unblinking eye for an extending period, then sure! That does have the potential to do damage. Fortunately, in the history of laser tag this specific occurrence has not been reported. Phew! In general, it is best to avoid aiming your laser gun at someone’s eye.
Naturally, if the butt of someone’s phaser was to make a direct connection with your eye socket (i.e., someone’s laser gun slams into your eyeball), there is potential for vision impairment or eye damage. However, this is a cautionary tale that pertains to any sport--like when opposing basketball players accidentally elbowed their rival in the eye.
Do we think you need to wear goggles or take extra measures to avoid such collisions? No, we do not. If all players follow the rules and don’t run around at top speeds carelessly, then every player should leave a laser tag arena unscathed.
No, it does not hurt when you are shot in laser tag. When you are ‘hit’ by someone’s laser phaser, which means your vest recognized the LED light and will thereby be deactivated, you will at most feel a vibration in the place where the ‘hit’ occurred. However, no pain will be felt at all.
When you’re hit, the vest and gun will go offline for a short period (10-30 seconds), during which time you should try to hide or take cover so other players don’t target you immediately as you come online and can shoot again.
Since the equipment used in laser tag does not cause any form of bodily pain or harm, the only way for players to get injured during a game of laser tag is for them to fall, trip, collide with other players, or some other unforeseen accident.
These are some of the most common injuries that can occur when playing laser tag.
This can occur when a player wears unsuitable shoes for a laser tag arena, or when someone has broken the rules and brought a liquid into the arena, causing a safety hazard, which can lead to someone slipping and falling.
However, if everyone follows the rules and wears proper footing, then slipping and falling is avoidable.
This is another potential hazard that most often occurs when a player has worn shoes not fit for physical activity. It can also happen in a dark arena when the player is unable to see where they are stepping.
The reason laser tag venues continue to reiterate their ‘no running’ policy is because players who run can unknowingly plow down other players. The arena is dark, sometimes multi-leveled, and there are typically props and mirrors and other such obstacles on a course.
If someone is running in an unfamiliar space and can’t see what’s just around the corner from them, they could accidentally collide with another player (which can lead to things like bruises, broken noses, or other such injuries.)
As we’ve mentioned, an arena often contains specific props and obstacles to allow players to hide behind and to create a more interesting and engaging field of play. However, when players get to running at top speeds, they can often run into props or walls.
Often a player will injure themselves by their own reckless play.
You might go home with a few bruises here and there. Even if you didn’t run full tilt into a medium wall, you might clip your side on the edge of a corner and in the thrill of battle not even notice the dull ache.
However, the next day when a purple bruise appears, you will remember that edge.
If you run in the wrong shoes, trip over something loose on the floor, or fall at all during laser tag, it is possible you might return home with some minor scrapes.
Before any game-play can occur during a session of laser tag, the group preparing for play will go through a safety briefing. Often the laser tag venue will show the players an instructional video (usually about 3-5 minutes long), and a staff member will then reiterate the safety guidelines and rules of the game to ensure all parties understand.
That staff member will then open the floor for questions in case anyone is confused or was not paying attention (the latter is more likely.) Below is a list of safety rules laser tag players must follow:
It is generally accepted that any persons who do not follow these rules, show misconduct or inappropriate behavior have cause to be dismissed from play by any of the laser tag attendants.
To avoid inducing any injury or health-related issues, the following individuals should avoid playing laser tag:
To avoid any potential injury that you might cause to yourself or others around you, we recommend that you avoid the following clothing items:
No sandals, high heels, flip flops, bare feet, or socks. One of the easiest ways to injure yourself is by wearing improper shoes.
You can avoid these types of injuries by wearing some form of closed-toe-shoe, preferably a sneaker you can feel comfortable being athletic in.
Do not wear long dresses or skirts as you are more likely to trip and fall in such attire. We recommend wearing athletic clothing that you can move in with ease, and that is less likely to get caught on a surface.
Capes or long shawls are especially ill-advised due to their tendency to flow behind a person. This can easily cause you to get caught on a nearby structure, which would send you flying to your bum if you were mid-run.
Also, another player might accidentally step on the cape or shawl. All in all, long flowy things are a definite no-go in laser tag.
Do not wear any floppy hats or other caps that could potentially obstruct your view
Do not wear anything in front of your eyes that could obstruct your vision
If you want to avoid injury when playing laser tag, in general it is wise to be mindful of your surroundings, especially in a dark environment, which makes it harder to see.
If you are curious about the degree of injury one can incur playing laser tag, even if said injuries are entirely rare, we’ve collected a few examples for you.
Lacerations from Mirror
Some laser tag employees reported that a teenage laser tag player must have been a bit disoriented because he accidentally ran into a mirror and received minor lacerations from the mirror chipping from the force of his running into the mirror.
While rarer, it does sometimes occur that players take things a bit too seriously, get too heated and end up in a physical altercation.
When this occurs, injuries can be anything from split lips to bloody noses, to bruised rib-cages.
One father reported that his daughter accidentally ran full bore into a wall and broke her nose. She left the arena holding her nose and went to the E.R. soon after.
In one exceedingly rare and extreme case, a young boy died from a liver injury that occurred after being knocked down by a large teenager.
The boy was apparently nearly crushed. The teenager tried to get off him as quickly as he could, but liver damage ensued, and when the boy went to the hospital, he went into cardiac arrest.
Apparently, this child had sickle cell anemia, so there were previous health conditions. You can read more about this here.
Laser tag is a safe and fun way to play a harmless real-life shooter game. The guns shoot LED lights that are harmless to the eye and do not cause any physical pain on the body.
It is typically safer to play in one’s own age range or to supervise younger children (6 to 10-year-olds) with parental supervision. However, laser tag can be played by most age ranges and is most fun when played in a group of your own friends and family.
To prevent undue injury, wear proper clothing, do not bring anything wet into the arena that could cause you or your comrades to slip and fall, and follow all the safety guidelines. While the instructional videos and safety guidelines may seem trite, like listening to the inflight safety instructions on a Boeing 747 for the hundredth time, they are none-the-less important.
At the end of the day, laser tag is meant to be a fun physical activity and is no more dangerous than any other sport (easily less risky than football.)