Skirmos: Open Source Laser Tag

I was Googling “laser tag” the other day, trying to find somewhere local to play, and the link for something called Skirmos: Open Source Laser Tag came up in the results.  It turned out to be a Kickstarter-funded, Arduino-based laser tag gun, and it looks pretty sweet!


The gun has lots of cool features, including:

  • Glowing LED lights inside
  • LCD screen that shows important info and stats
  • Rumble vibration
  • MP3/Wave sound card

And the open source part means that you can program the guns however you like, making your own play modes, setting certain constraints, and probably a whole bunch of other stuff. I don’t know much about Arduino, but I would assume that the options are pretty much limitless for creative gameplay incorporating other Arduino devices. This photo on the Skirmos Flickr stream of a player capturing an objective from an object in the environment seems to confirm that idea.

The project saw a successful Kickstarter campaign, drawing in 165% of their $60k goal for a total of just under $100k. This put the team just under their first stretch goal, which will hopefully mean a very well-developed basic product.

The Kickstarter is over, but the guns are currently available for pre-order at a price of $132.99 per system in US and Canada (International is a bit higher). This includes one gun, an SD card, USB cable, and 3 pre-programmed game modes. You can pre-order sets of 1, 2, 4, or 8 systems with slight discounts for the higher quantities. Systems are slated to ship in December 2014.


My local laser tag club uses the “Lazer Tag” style guns by Nerf, Tiger, and Hasbro, which come in a 2-pack via Amazon for about $70. If these models are the standard, the Skirmos system might be a bit out of range for the average laser tag enthusiast. But the potential for unique custom gameplay through Arduino, the added functionality of the display screen, and the cool factor of the gun’s visual design should certainly make it appealing to more hardcore fans. The team also recently announced their work on a “pro” model specifically tailored for traditional laser tag arenas.

I have to say, I’m pretty tempted to just drop $1k on a set of 8 guns so I could play awesome custom laser tag whenever I wanted! Though I suppose I’d need 7 friends and a place to play first… In any case, I’m excited to see the future of Skirmos, and I hope it sees a lot of success and widespread adoption.

2 comments on Skirmos: Open Source Laser Tag

  • Chris M. Dickson

    OK, that’s really, really cool, and I’d never heard of it before, so thanks a million for sharing! The thought of laser games with only the gun as a sensor is a bit mind-boggling (betraying the age of my outlook on them), though I note they talk about being able to add helmets and vests at a later date.

    In this day and age of smartphones with really good cameras, I wonder whether it might be possible to have a system where “where you point your camera” turns out to be “where you point your gun”, and there’s some fancy image processing to detect whether the centre of the image you captured is part of a target, i.e. another player in the game or not, with contact between players’ smartphones to deactivate hit players for a while.

    • clavicarius (author)

      Glad to share! I’m rather receptive to the idea of gun-as-sensor, since it would make the game more accessible for casual, non-arena play. But as you said, it certainly sounds like there are possibilities for any number of different sensor configurations.

      Interesting idea, sounds like an augmented reality type of game! Though I think something of the immersive effect would be lost if it weren’t attached to a gun-shaped object =)

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