Jan 312013

As you can see, play is not much different when you use a tactical helmet. It is just more easily coordinated, recorded and reported on. Key to this is the communications system that has software designed to make it all easy. Most of what is done is anticipated by the software and the proper options made readily available to the participants via simple clicks.

Here are some additional aspects of the overall idea on how others would be able to play.

Cyber-warriors will be able to interact with anyone in the game by attacking, defending or spying on them. They cannot take someone out of the game, but they can diminish their electronic capabilities (like not let them see anything in the viewer for a few seconds, or not be able to use certain functionality like active radar). They can work independently, attacking and defending various people or locations, or collectively based on a cyber-commander coordinating attacks or defense.

Video gamers could see changes in their game based on losses of equipment in the scenario game (tanks, helicopters…), soldiers or commanders, bases being overrun. These are adjuncts to their game play, but can be incorporated. Video games could also display various status maps, threat assessments and so on from the scenario play, and not allow movement of people or equipment in the game along certain areas that could be mapped to the fields. Equipment used by video gamers could also have an attachment to scenario game equipment. If the scenario game has a tank, then that tank could be used by video gamers… Much of this can be done internally in the games, which makes initial game integration easier.

Video gamers could also interface with the cyber warriors, who can act as spies and perform attacks on real world positions which can in turn be altering what the video game is doing. So a video gamer could ask the cyber warriors for help in certain attacks or defense that would then cause some change they need in the game to take place.

In the play detailed above, an adviser (armchair general that was like the current general or XO, but working remotely and taking time to study tactical pictures and understand message intercepts) could advise the Zombie king to pull back on his attack after seeing what Paco was doing.

Any remotely connected players could follow others (with their authorization) and see what is happening to that person as they play. So parents or friends of a kid could see what they are doing as it happens (or nearly so). They can also talk and send messages to the player (parent asking if all is ok, friends telling the kid what he should be doing…).

Remote players can use cyber spies. These can watch what is happening and periodically break through communications and make sense of events, such as the chopper mission with Paco. When this happens, the spy can inform the XO of the probability of a chopper mission at a grid point, seeming to move in a particular direction. This can allow the XO to bolster troops in that area, and also get cyber bots to attack along that direction to help out. The person or unit being spied on will not know they are being spied on, unless they have spies of their own helping them.

Every scenario player has health points like characters in a video game, which shows how their own defenses, bots and whatnot that are helping them, and attacking them. Players with lower health points are easier for cyber attacks.

Video gamers could also send in their game assets, like tanks or air strikes. These would have much the same effect as missions. Where they succeed in the video game would affect the players in that area (their electronic parts). For example, a tank firing in certain coordinates, even though the tank is a game tank, could have a cyber-toll on the players in that area, like jamming or loss of radar, stopping XO messages from reaching players, or stopping messages from getting to the XO.

Finally, here is the basic idea (as it stands now) behind the business model for Combat Theater:

  • Fields would bring in Combat Theater for a scenario game.
  • Combat Theater would arrive and set up the field (with communications, positioning and tactical helmets). Everything needed.
  • Combat Theater would provide game configuration to the promoters/field.
  • Combat Theater would make a percent of the game revenue.

Large fields could permanently deploy the system and play games at any time (there would be some additional costs involved to the field to make it permanent, but Combat Theater would still be responsible for service and support). This would create the permanent theme park type play.


Here is a summary of what I think Combat Theater could mean for paintball.

  • Getting in a LOT more players into the game – The extension of paintball into video games and software developers greatly expands its audience and should provide a compelling path from game player to paintball player. Coupled with a good marketing plan this could get a LOT more players into the game and show many people what paintball is really about.
  •  Making paintball easier and safer for kids – parents will know where there kids are and what they are doing. That alone is enough to make this kind of technology successful. The electronic “mom” mode is a significant feature for dealing with parents and their decisions about child safety in paintball.
  •  Motivating parents to get and keep their kids playing – It will be much easier for kids and fields to demonstrate kid’s interest in outdoor, energetic play. This is a combination of technology, interest and marketing all coming together at the parent level, demonstrating what paintball offers that appeals to parenting.
  •  Making more money for fields, manufacturers, stores and promoters – it’s all about volume. Increase the number of players and everyone makes more money by doing what they do today, just with more players.
  •  Will it work? – The technology will work. It is nothing really that new. The key consideration is one of business – does Combat Theater have sufficient funding, will paintball get behind it, and will video game manufacturers integrate?

More articles will be coming that provide additional color to what Combat Theater can do.

Matt’s Safety Net

If I had all of this stuff it would be fun if I could talk to my friends and could see where they are at. If my friends at home could also see what I was doing, that would really be cool, because then they would want to play paintball more. It just needs to be simple. What I think is most needed:

  • Buttons need to be few, big and simple to click. And the display or audio needs to tell you when you clicked something and what it did. Video games are good at helping you along; otherwise you get too frustrated and quit playing.
  •  Need to be able to adjust volume easily.
  •  Needs to be rugged so when we drop them and knock them into things they don’t break.
  •  What we do should be anticipated like in a video game and ask me if I want to do that. So it needs to understand if I am playing a game and what is going on to help me.
  •  I want to talk to friends, take pictures or movies, and see where my friends are or where I need to go. Let other stuff be kept out of the way so these are very easy.
  •  What do we do when we get out? Do we need to turn off the unit so the general knows we are out?
  •  How do I program my helmet with how I really like to play? I need to be able to set my preferences at home and then have them take effect in the helmet.

Writeup courtesy of Matt and Kelly Wical

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