Founders: Patrick Holmes & Frank Stace
Date Established: May 4, 1988
Date Closed: May 1989 (merged into Zone Empire)
Number of Locations: 3
Patrick Holmes - Founder
Frank Stace - Co-founder
First Facility: Phasor Strike at The Fun Factory, 257 Toorak Road, South Yarra, Melbourne, VIC 3141, Australia
Equipment: Phasor Strike’s equipment was the first generation of Zone Laser Tag.
Phasor Strike Instructional Video
History: Phasor Strike was created by Patrick Holmes when he improved the laser tag technology of a New Zealand company named Laser Strike. Holmes used his new laser tag equipment to create Phasor Strike, which was the first and second generation of equipment of Zone Laser Tag.
During May of 1989, the company merged into the Zone Empire and became Zone Laser Tag. Phasor Strike’s role in the laser tag industry’s history is huge. Phaser Strike was the beginning of Zone Laser Systems and Laser Quest, two of the largest laser tag companies in the business today.
News Article from The Sydney Morning Herald, Tuesday February 14, 1989:
FUTURISTIC WAR GAME DRAWS FIRE FROM ITS DETRACTORS
By NORMAN ABJORENSEN Source: The Age
MELBOURNE: The disco music pounds away at high decibels, lurid strobe lights pulsate through the smoky darkness, and ultraviolet light gives eerie form to space monsters. Around a corner emerges a shadowy figure, weapon drawn and levelled. Zap | A low-power infra-red beam is fired, registering a shrieking direct hit on the target - an illuminated section of a sensitised breastplate slung over the neck of another figure carrying a similar weapon.
As a result, the shooter has "tagged" an opponent, scored a point, and deactivated the opponent's weapon for 15 seconds.
Welcome, to entertainment 1989-style.
The game is called Phasor Strike and its makers promote it as "12 minutes of adrenalin-pumping action; the closest thing to real-life Star Wars you'll ever experience". The object is to stalk and avoid opponents in a futuristic maze. The game's popularity is growing rapidly with waits of up to three hours to play at peak time, on Saturday nights.
But its detractors say that behind the gimmicks and the fantasy, the game is all about killing. A member of the National Action Against War Toys, Mrs Jane Chesneau, said she found the idea "terribly disturbing" and hoped that young people would reject violence disguised as entertainment.
"It embodies an attitude towards killing that bothers us," she said. Mrs Chesneau said her group planned to seek the help of local councils in blocking the spread of the game. At least one council, at Morwell, has deferred permission to set up the game there pending public discussion.
A variation on the theme is undergoing a boom in the US, and the two men behind the Australian version, Mr Patrick Holmes and Mr Frank Stace, who operate the Fun Factory at South Yarra, originally planned to buy a franchise, but eventually developed a system of their own.
Mr Holmes, an electronics expert, designed the equipment, and Mr Stace, a New Zealand computer expert, set out to sell the idea. Phasor Strike operates in South Yarra, Dandenong and Canberra, but there are plans to expand Australia-wide. Inquiries about the technology have already come from Japan and Britain and the company hopes to develop an export arm.
"We knew it would be popular, but the response has proved far bigger than we expected," Mr Holmes said, gesturing toward the people queueing to pay up to $6 a head for a 12-minute game, or join a team and take part in an organised league competition.
"Primarily, a lot of entertainment seems to be based around the personal computer and video games, but what this does is give a sense of involvement whereby people can actually participate in something, as opposed to sitting there alone in front of a computer screen," Mr Stace said.
He said criticism of Phasor Strike was "not serious".
"If you argue that the device looks like a gun, you could argue that it looks like a hair-dryer as well. It could just as easily have been designed to look like a wand."
From the Curator: Phil Pickersgilll, co-founder of Laser Quest, originally consider using the first generation of Phasor Strike equipment for the first Laser Quest location in Manchester, UK in May 1989. Ultimately, Laser Quest opened with Vada equipment from New Zealand. The Laser Tag Museum has photos of Simon James and Phil Pickersgill wearing the Phasor Strike equipment in promotional news articles dated May 1989.