Okay, I’ll be honest here. I’m neither a big gamer nor avid paintball fan. I don’t love the graphic violence on video games, and paintball–well, those things hurt!
But, both pastimes are obviously very popular, and players of both are often not just participants but avid fans.
One of those avid fans is Josh Moody, who realized that real life paintball and airsoft could be greatly enhanced by the features of online combat games. So, he created Overwatch, a smartphone app that incorporates GPS, Bluetooth, and other technologies to provide a more digital experience to real life.
Josh gave me a quick education in gaming and what Overwatch can do to enhance real life games. Check out our chat below.
1) What does your company do?
Overwatch brings the futuristic technology of combat video games to real-life games of paintball, airsoft, and laser tag. See the location of teammates and opponents through an overview of the entire playing field, communicate with teammates via voice chat, and activate perks and unlocks to gain an edge on the opposition during any game—all through your iOS or Android device.
2) Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
The company was founded by Joe Saumweber, Michael Paladino, and me. Joe and Michael are the owners of RevUnit, an independent software development firm based in Bentonville, Arkansas. Joe has an extensive background in digital and mobile strategy, large enterprise solutions, and consumer facing applications. Michael has over ten years of experience in software development and developer management across web, mobile, and social platforms. As for me, I am a self-taught programmer and web designer, with experience designing and building electronic hardware. While I am only eighteen and have not had years and years of experience like my co-founders, I pride myself on being able to learn quickly and constantly improve.
3) What’s the story behind your idea?
Three years ago, just as most teenage guys are, I was an avid gamer. Specifically, I played quite a bit of “first-person shooter” games—titles such as Call of Duty and Battlefield. While I enjoyed gaming on my console, I also enjoyed playing airsoft and paintball with friends.
—Most people are familiar with paintball but not airsoft. To explain, airsoft is a similar game, but with much smaller, plastic BB projectiles instead of paintballs. Airsoft guns also provide a much more realistic, tactical feel and experience.—
Interested in both the digital and real-life versions of combat gaming, I realized a substantial gap between the two. None of the features of combat video games were present in real-life combat gaming, and thus, the Overwatch concept was born. Using the Overwatch app and hardware, gamers now have real-time GPS radar to track the location of teammates and opponents on the playing field, bluetooth voice chat to communicate with one another at all times, and even perks and unlocks that provide special abilities (such as Radar Jam). All of this and more is displayed right on the user’s smartphone, mounted directly in front of them, during any airsoft, paintball, or laser tag match. Overwatch is interactive gaming in its truest sense.
4) How as being part of the ARK Challenge helpful for your startup?
Without the ARK Challenge, Overwatch would not be where it is today. Not only did the ARK provide the funds our company needed to start up, it also provided invaluable mentorship and advice from experienced entrepreneurs, and the knowledge necessary to continue onward even after the 14-week competition had concluded. I am incredibly grateful for each person who worked to make the ARK Challenge the great program that it is, and hope to see many more companies emerge from it.
5) What milestones have you reached, and what are you working on next?
From our founding, we’ve built the Overwatch app from the ground up for both iOS and Android, as well as designed the perfect hardware to incorporate a player’s smartphone into gameplay while providing adequate protection for the device. At the close of the ARK Challenge, Overwatch secured a partnership with the largest airsoft manufacturer in the world to ensure that our products have a strong presence in both online and retail stores worldwide. The iOS app is complete and will be submitted to the app store in the coming weeks, while the Android version is soon to follow. As for the hardware, the armband, essentially a running band for your forearm, will be available in the coming months. The rail mount, similar to the heartbeat sensor in Call of Duty, will be available later this year.
6) Where can folks find out more?
To find out more, we encourage people to visit OverwatchApp.com and sign up for our email updates. If anyone has any additional questions after checking out the Overwatch website, feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org