PhotonPhoton is a live-action participation game, which was developed in the 80ies in the United States. The Players of this game are spreading out into a futuristic looking environment with a kind of phaser gun in their hand and are shooting laserbeams at the members of the opposing team. The Photon Novels are an extension of the TV series, both were meant to market the game.
About the game
In spring 1984 George A. Carter III opened the first Photon Center in Kenilworth, New Jersey. He said he was inspired by the laser shooting battles between the Stormtroopers and the rebels in “Star Wars”. In the seventies the necessary technology was not yet developed to realize his idea of a live-action game. But seven years later time had come.
Essentially two teams of up to ten players are shooting at each other with laserbeams in a terrain full of hideouts. They try to get as much hits as possible. The scene of the action is situated in a huge hall and extends over two floors, connected over a ramp. The floor is covered with grey carpet. Synthetic smoke, flashing swirling lights and electronic music create a futuristic surrounding. It is as if you were live in a videogame.
The players wear an epuipment of about twenty pounds, consisting of a helmet with stereo headphones, a battery belt, a control box and a phaser-“gun”. This phaser is shouting laserbeams. If the control box of an opponent registers a direct hit, the shooter gets points on his score. At the same time the hit opponent is not capable of shooting for some seconds because his weapon is deactivated. And he gets minus on his score.
Three small office computers count the scores, which are displayed on video screens at the observation deck. There visitors who aren’t playing in the moment can watch the actual game. And it is observed from there that no one gets hurt.
Protesters objected the martial principle of the game, where you are “shooting” the players of the other team. But the devotees of Photon refused this argument. The game was totally nonviolent, because no one dies or gets hurt. You are quasi going into a fantasy world, and all senses and the tactical skills are challenged during the game.
The game soon had reached a certain popularity, and several Photon Centers were opened all over the USA. Today almost all are closed. Because of legal reasons the holder of the Centers were not allowed to use the name “Photon” any longer. You can find the game halls now under the name “XP Lastersport” (XP seems to stand for eX-Photon).
The TV Series
As typical show for a juvenile viewers “Photon” has a moral of the week in every episode. The plot is simplified about the fight Good against Evil.
In the Photon universe each solarsystem has a Photon crystal. This crystal is emitting light for about 100 years, then he has to be recharged. The Photon warriors are on their way to complete this task. But they have to be quick because the Warlord of Arr is sending his henchmen to fill the crystal with darkness before the Photon warriors reach it. It seems the warlord is sending only holographic projections of his people, for if a Arrian is shot he simply returns to his master. The Photon warriors have no such advantage. If they get killed they stay dead. But of course in the TV series no one good ever dies.
Bohdi Li is a member of the forces of Light. He is a young man from the Earth named Christopher Jarvis, who was recruited by means of the game to fight in this interstellar war. His companions are Tivia, a warrior princess from the planet Nivia, the Cyborg Lord Baethan and others. The supercomputer MOM supports the Photon team.
The members of the evil army of Arr all have names which end to “arr”, like Mandarr or Buggarr.
The “Photon” series was produced by DIC Animation City and was cancelled during the first season. There are about 18 episodes existing.
Some franchise has been produced in this time, for example action-figures and a home version of the game, consisting of a lasergun and a sensor unit.
Two kind of Photon novels were published at the same time - An adventure novel series for young readers and a young adult series. For the latter only one novel was launched: “Thieves of Light” by Michael Hudson. Behind this pseudonym is the author Michael P. Kube-McDowell (à Homepage: http://www.sff.net/people/K-Mac/default.htm). The publisher intended to use the name Michael Hudson as uniform pseudonym for all the novels, even if they were written by several authors. The opening book of the young adult book series became a single novel when the series was cancelled. Kube-McDowell took some liberties with the original concept of the TV series, so some details are different.
For the adventure novels Peter David was hired, who wrote the novels as David Peters. This series was stopped after six books. These novels are full of in-jokes from everything from The Prisoner to Star Trek.
Photon - Thieves of Light
Photon Adventure Novel #1 - For the Glory
Photon Adventure Novel #3 - In Search of MOM
Photon Adventure Novel #4 - This is Your Life, Bhodi Li
Photon Adventure Novel #6 - Skin Deep
It is thinkable that such plots were planned for later novels, but as we know the book series was cancelled.
But I Digress