The man with the Laser Tag guns had to go to catch a flight. Otherwise I'm sure we would have been zapping each other. Nevertheless, yesterday was my chance to bring up the topic of Battle Tag to someone who works for Ubisoft and ask: Huh?
Chris Grandjean, Ubisoft PR man at a New York gaming showcase event and who didn't have to catch a flight, was the recipient of my inquiry which was a little more articulately phrased than that.
We were talking about Battle Tag, which looks an awful lot like Laser Tag, that late-'80s toy shootout game that involved toy guns and vests with sensors. No, Grandjean told me, this is not Laser Tag. This is more than Laser Tag. "It is like adding a video game to the realm of toys."
It's also like being able to play team deathmatch in your back yard.
Battle Tag includes toy guns and vests with sensors. It also involves a hub device that hooks up to your computer. All together, those devices allow you to set up shooter games in the real world that operate with video game rules, Grandjean explained.
The hub tracks a maximum 300m range in all directions and tallies the performance and achievement of the game's players. The guns can shoot targets up to 70m away. The vests and application in the computer together track health. Ubisoft will sell health packs and ammo packs, physical devices that you can touch your gun to in order to reload or heal.
You can have a deathmatch or a team deathmatch via the computer application. You can play capture the flag, using two base points and a flag, all tracked through RF ID connections and player movement. Could you add vehicles, I asked before remembering the 300m limit? Grandjean speculated you could put the hub in a moving car. I theorised that you could put players on bicycles.
Battle Tag is set to launch in the spring, supporting eight players, though Grandjean said Ubisoft would like to raise that player count to 32. And this is just the start, Grandjean said, of a planned "UbiConnect" initiative to have other real-world, hub-enabled games.