Date:6 March 2014
So here’s an idea on Kickstarter to make you wish you’d come up with it first: open source laser tag.
The system, given the slightly iffy name “Skirmos”, takes all the flexibility of an online deathmatch and transplants it into the real world. Only without, y’know, any actual death. Score.
Skirmos guns are controlled by a programmable Arduino board, and communicate with one another over radio. A screen mounted to the rear of the device acts as a head-up display, showing health, ammo, shield level, and basically anything you desire – as long as you’re willing to put the effort into programming it.
The guns will come with a number of pre-programmed match options, including straight-up deathmatch and the ever-awesome capture the flag; with a little coding knowhow, you’ll be able to create your own game modes and customise gun attributes and behaviour (such as ammo count, LED colour and sound effects). In other words, expect the modding crowd to do wonders with these things.
With 29 days still to go the campaign is already at the halfway mark of its US$60 000 funding goal. Naturally that means it’s outrageously likely to meet its stretch goals, which include extra game types, rumble feedback, a growing number of RPG elements, and smartphone integration.
You’re looking at a minimum of US$99 to buy into a single Skirmos, which is pretty pointless unless you’re aiming to commit laser-tag suicide. Around US$200 gets you two guns. That ain’t exactly inexpensive, but then again it’s not outlandishly pricey for the sort of sophistication the developers are promising.
Of course, the Skirmos will probably stir up the whole “toys and violence” debate; whatever you feel, it’s hard not to admire the simple genius of the idea.