LaserTron: Human-Centered Game Design

LaserTron: Human-Centered Game Design

LASERTRON focuses 100% of its efforts on Human-Centered Game Design for out-of-home entertainment venues who want the very best Laser Tag attraction. More specifically, we focus exclusively on creating the best 10x Branded LASERTRON laser tag experiences utilizing our proprietary laser tag game equipment and programmable LED illuminated laser tag arenas to fully immerse players (i.e. humans) into the game. We do this at a dramatically higher level than any other laser tag manufacturer or laser tag arena supplier. 

Quick Deep Dive: Why Real In-Person Human Experiences ReallyMatter

If we learned anything from the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s this: 

It’s extremely difficult to keep humans from socializing with their friends and family – even if it means they could die from it. 

Socializing with our tribe (friends, family, and followers) is a deep human need. It’s this socialization need that is essential to keeping a family healthy, a group of friends close, and our communities more tightly-knit. Life can be freakin’ brutal, but it’s our social connections that ultimately make our lives worth living and ourselves more caring. Even when we lose someone close to us, it’s those good, fun, caring, and social memories that we shared together that keep us going.

How do we create better social out-of-home attraction experiences?

Sometimes the ‘HOW’ to be successful at creating and operating the best out-of-home entertainment experiences is literally staring right back at us – especially when we are standing in front of a full length mirror, looking at all of our “extremely” well designed human interfaces that took hundreds of thousands of years to evolve, or God did it, or both. Pick whatever you prefer, but no person or company is ever going to create better attraction sensory interfaces for our human participants than the tools they already have fully integrated into their biological bodies.

Technology can be a great enhancer of an attraction experience, but only when it’s designed to elevate and support the biological human hardware and software already available and programmed into each human who will be participating in our attractions 

Important point: Virtual Reality (VR) is definitely not a part of the solution. On the other hand, Augmented Reality (AR) is already a part of the solution, but not the way many would narrowly define what they think AR is (including Dictionaries – who narrowly define it as being just one thing – a heads-up display or a mobile phone display (ex: Pokemon Go) that projects or overlays images and/or data over a real or virtual environment)

Photo showing LASERTRON's LED Illuminated Arena

The best definition for AR for out-of-home entertainment is “any” hardware and/or software that enhances a human’s ability to more fully or intensely experience a real-world attraction experience. Too many people wrongly assume that AR is specifically about wearing AR glasses that project images onto the real world environment. Wikipedia has a better, but still mediocre, explanation of Augmented Reality and can be summed up in the last sentence of the very first paragraph as shown on Wikipedia’s website: “This combines the benefits of both augmented reality technology and heads-up display technology (HUD).” 

Here are a few examples of important (non heads-up display) augmented reality enhancements to a laser tag arena experience. When haze is added to the laser tag arena so players can actually see the laser beam, or the placement of a full color display on the back of a player’s phaser that provides important information which players need to successfully play the game. Vibrators/Haptic devices that tell a laser tag player when something is happening (i.e. I’m getting tagged in my right shoulder sensor or I’m getting tagged from behind). These hardware/software and display devices augment the laser tag playing experience to create a more realistic experience in an already real environment.   

Photo showing LASERTRON's LED Illuminated Arena

Too often, we get mesmerized by the new bright and shiny objects out there and ultimately fail to “see” what is already right in front of us and what is already 10x better than the new thing everyone seems to be talking about (ex: Virtual Reality or the bad definition of AR (heads-up display or HUD tech). The biggest problem for the out-of-home entertainment attraction industry is that we don’t do a very good job of designing attractions that take full advantage of our built-in, human, biological hardware and software interfaces

The key is fully understanding and “seeing with our human eyes what is already there and available to use and is already 100% Real. We must start by utilizing all the 10x capabilities that already are built into our human bodies. It’s these distinctly human, biological hardware and software features that LASERTRON is obsessively working on with the ultimate goal of dramatically elevating our LASERTRON Laser Tag arena experiences:

  • Human Legs and Feet 

These mobility mechanisms enable human players to quickly maneuver in our out-of-home, real, physical world LASERTRON LED illuminated arenas. The human participants use their legs and feet to successfully play LASERTRON. In fact, humans who regularly use their mobility devices (human legs and feet) are able to maintain and even increase their physical and mental well-being through movement. Sitting on a couch or standing in a 4 feet x 4 feet area (VR) doesn’t create the same positive affect. To be specific, exercise helps humans to release beta-endorphins and endocannabinoids, which help to reduce both stress and anxiety. Do you know of any human beings who might be interested in reducing the amount of stress or anxiety in their lives – especially over the last 11+ months? 

  • Human Eyes

In order to visualize our three-dimensional, high-definition (3D HD), LASERTRON LED illuminated arena environment, our human players come equipped with optical devices called eyes (i.e. no VR goggles required). Our human optical devices, which are built into two sockets on either side of our olfactory organ (i.e. nose), enable us to see the world three-dimensionally and in full color. In fact, the human combined viewing angle of both our eyes is slightly more than 180 degrees, which is dramatically better than Virtual Reality (VR) viewing goggles, which are used in a simulated or fake gaming environment. In addition, our built-in human optical devices don’t make us sick when moving around in our LASERTRON arena environment using our human mobility devices (i.e. legs and feet). 

One of the most important things our human eyes do is perceive the emotional facial expressions of other humans, especially when looking at their eyes and the areas around their eyes. Since socialization is so important to humans, the eyes are a key hardware and software device that enable us to socialize effectively. Covering up our human eyes with any type of goggles dramatically reduces the level of socialization and defeats the biggest advantage out-of-home entertainment has, which is enabling and maximizing human socialization. 

  • Shoulders, Elbows, Wrists, Hands, and Fingers 

These extremely versatile biological mechanisms are attached to a human’s upper torso. They are used to manipulate our LASERTRON game equipment and can provide players with the ability to touch and manipulate the real environment in our arenas. In fact, after winning a LASERTRON Battle Royale Round, players are able to use their biological mechanisms to give their squadmates a real high five (not a fake, programmed simulation of one). 

  • Ears 

Have you ever heard the story about why we have two ears and one mouth? Our ears are used to detect and translate audible sound waves – such as noises in the arena, game play announcements, ability to identify and translate auditory communication from other human beings (squadmates as well as opposing players), to hear sound effects on their player vest, phaser, and the arena obstacles (i.e. Sectors); and, maybe most importantly, to hear when opposing players are approaching, enabling players to also determine the proximity, direction, and speed of those same approaching players.

  • Vocal Cords 

These communication devices allow human players to communicate with other human players while playing the game or, even socially, when the game is over and the humans are just hanging out and bonding with each other. Our vocal cords are used to tell the stories we just experienced as well as past successes, defeats, and how we came back and won the game. 

  • Human Tactile Sensors 

Human skin is used to sense or feel things in our real, out-of-home only attraction environment (i.e. walls, obstacles, doorways, railings, haptic feedback, high fives, fist bumps, etc). 

  • Sensing Social Cues (a deeper look)

Ability to Detect and Decipher Human Expressions and Emotional Cues using Human Eyes and Ears (i.e. smiling, frowning, surprise, anger, laughing, frustration, happiness, sadness, tone of voice, wonder, friendly face, a familiar face, a stranger, body language, and more). These facial, physical, and auditory cues are easily picked up using our unobstructed human eyes and ears and can be quickly translated into useful feedback using our onboard human CPU (i.e. brain).  

  • Multiplayer Tribes, Teams, or Squads Competing

The key to great out-of-home social experiences is designing competitive, out-of-home LASERTRON game experiences that fully engage humans to work together with their Tribe, Team, or Squad against the opposing forces while using their human eyes, ears, and teamwork to detect and position the opposing forces on the playing field. Short bursts of multiple, intense game experiences produce a rush of adrenaline along with the opportunity to test each player’s skills multiple times. 

When the game is over, the goal is to help our human guests bond and interact with their squad, tribe, and other humans in their community. These bonding rituals trigger chemical reactions producing serotonin in the body that help to manifest a feeling of belonging and contributing to their squad’s, tribe’s, or community’s success. Enabling the fulfillment of these human needs helps to reduce stress, anxiety, and can help bond a community together. 

Playing or Participating in real, out-of-home only attractions is all about sharing human experiences with other human beings in our community – not playing in an artificially simulated world with artificially simulated avatars.  

Many forms of digital entertainment and social networks are trying to replicate social experiences. Fortunately for us (out-of-home entertainment venue operators), ‘social experiences’ are the one thing they are NOT very good at replicating and actually CAN’T be great at. Ultimately, their attempts at fake, simulated, social experiences are causing as much mental and physical damage to our human society as a crack dealer on a street corner – just much more slowly.  

All the above details are an important part of what we need to understand and focus on in order to create the best Human-Centered gaming experiences as well as the best social experiences that humans crave and ultimately need

LASERTRON is 100% focused on creating Real Game Experiences for Real Human Beings in Real, Multi-Level LASERTRON Laser Tag Arena gaming environments (not fake, UV-painted, cartoony themed laser tag arenas for the kiddies – by the way, the kiddies don’t want to play in cartoony themed laser tag arenas either – they want real arenas. The same goes for Virtual Reality (VR) game experiences, which are also fake and can already be played for pennies per hour at home).

The conclusion for out-of-home entertainment venues…

Let’s give our Real Human Being guests, Real, out-of-home experiences that are highly social and facilitate human interaction and connection.

Thanks for reading!

Jim Kessler

By the way, this article kind of jumped ahead of an article we were working on about our Center Manager Pro Software Suite. We are just acknowledging that we haven’t forgotten about it and that we are still working on it. 

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