Tom Ketola began his career in gaming two decades ago as a full-time college student and 17-year-old designer for Activision. “I was the first Activision employee that had to get a parental permission slip,” he said.
After several successful exits as an entrepreneur and near the end of his stretch at Disney Interactive, he met Mark Ladd, who grew up in the Chicago suburbs futzing around with a Commodore 64. Their vision for the game-tech startup LyteShot began to crystalize.
[ibimage==42195==Medium==none==self==ibimage_align-right]LyteShot creates multiplayer interactive gaming experiences designed to bolster creativity in the three-dimensional world, and maybe even inspire mobile gamers to get some exercise. The platform consists of a mobile app, a handheld device called the Lyter, a LytePuck receiver, and an open-source software development kit. Drawing some inspiration from large-area role-playing games such as Max Temkin's Humans Vs. Zombies, it encourages developers to use it for anything from a first-person shooter to an immersive adventure with a complex backstory.
“Tom and I got together to work this initial concept of taking advantage of this proliferation of sensors that's going on, that are inexpensive,” said Ladd. “Only in the last two or three years has mobile really taken off. We decided to bring those things together and put them on steroids.”
[ibimage==42197==Medium==none==self==ibimage_align-left]LyteShot was a finalist for the 2013 Techstars Chicago class, but didn't get in, owing to its unique position in the startup world. “We're a hardware, software, and platform startup,” said Ladd. “For people who are just ad-based, it's easier for people to get their arms around because they can iterate quickly."
Fortunately, LyteShot snagged a round of seed funding and is now hitting the international conference circuit with gusto.
"This fits in with what I thought mobile should have been,” said Ketola, reflecting on the frustrations of his Disney days. “Casual games are one thing. I'm waiting in line, and, hey, I'm now occupied! But I've always been a big Ingress player. I've always thought there should be more to mobile. Me playing a puzzle game inline isn't my definition of mobile. This fit in with the vision."
Ketola said his most important metric for success is seeing his creation take on a life outside of his control. "I really just want to see people playing it. Our big goal is to get people to look up from the screen. If I see people playing mobile game, and their phones are still in their pockets, then I'm going to be a happy person."
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