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Remember LaserTag? Oh, it was all the rage about a dozen years ago or so, at the arcades. You’d suit up in a kind of vest tethered to a “laser” (really just the same kind of light used for overhead door kill switches) and head out with your team to play what amounted to play Capture the Flag, or at least a high-tech variant thereof. You could get tagged on the shoulders, back, chest, or gun, or do the same to the other guys. Fragging was discouraged, but allowed. It was pricy to play, but fun (and a pretty good workout, as I recall).

Then came Paintball – all the fun of LaserTag, with a lot more mess, and some physical pain, to boot. Even better, you could spend bucks on your own paintball gun, which meant mods, extras, more power, more capacity – you name it.

Now marry those two concepts with an iPhone and toss in a soupçon of “augmented reality,” and whadda ya get? Gunman.

Gunman is uses your iPhone’s camera to “augment reality.” That’s the buzzword du jour for an app that throws up something on top of a live shot, to provide more – more information, more details, whatever. Gunman slaps crosshairs over your camera’s image, and essentially turns your phone into a sniper scope. Acquire your target, click the trigger, and you’ll register a hit – and simultaneously snap a pic to commemorate your kill.

The interface allows you to specify the color of your opponent’s shirt…that’s how the iPhone ‘knows’ you’ve scored a hit. Speaking of scoring, the app keeps track of hits, misses, and ammo, so it’s best to make every shot count. Not enough friends with fones for a regular game? You can also play one-on-one, or go into crazed stalker/lone gunman er…”Pro” mode and fire away at innocent passers-by. (You’ll snap pics of them, too, providing a convenient evidence trail of your obsessions for the ensuing commitment hearing.)

Not sure exactly how I feel about this one. I think it could be a lot of fun (if only I was back in college, with a lot of iPhone-totin’ friends). I also think the potential for scoring an “11” on the “creep-me-out meter” is pretty strong in the “Pro” mode. I mean, imagine that guy on Kids in the Hall that did the “I crush your heads” routine, but with an iPhone showing crosshairs on the camera. Just kinda screams “stop me before I become a mass-murderer,” doesn’t it?

What’s missing? I think it would be screamingly cool to take this concept and marry it to the old “Assassin” game of my salad days. Perhaps combine facial-recognition algorithms, augmented reality, and the camera/sniper concept, and add a central database where you’d receive your target as a MMS picture message, and if you’re ‘killed’ – lose your targets to your assassin. Last man – or woman – standing wins. You could even have a direct line from the online leader board to the CIA’s recruiting hotline. Now THAT would be cool. And… kinda creepy.

Title: Gunman

Rating: * * * * (out of five)

Price: $2.99 (iTunes App Store)

Requirements: Compatible with iPhone. Requires iPhone OS 3.1 or later.

Summary: Interesting game, as long as you have between one and four other friends with iPhones that are similarly bent. Not indicated for the loner nerd..unless you’re into that ‘stalking thang.’


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