The Tap Lab, Backed by Harmonix Trio, Pushes Mobile Gaming Into Real World

You can’t box in Dave Bisceglia. Just when you think you know what location-based games are, or what mobile check-ins are, he goes and tries to upend the whole sector.

Bisceglia and his fellow co-founder Ralph Shao (see photo, right) don’t know any better. They’re a couple of young guns—recent grads of Boston University and the TechStars Boston and MassChallenge startup accelerators—and after being heads-down for the better part of a year, they are coming out blazing this week.

Their Cambridge, MA-based company, The Tap Lab, is announcing its new multiplayer mobile game, Tap City 2, which will be in Apple’s App Store this summer (it’s in beta now). The Tap Lab also says it has raised $550,000 in seed funding from angel investors including Harmonix founders Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy (creators of Guitar Hero and Rock Band), former Harmonix chief operating officer Mike Dornbrook (now with CommonAngels), and Google developer advocate Don Dodge.

Like their original game Tap City, which has been out for a year, Tap City 2 involves taking ownership of real-world properties around you like stores, coffee shops, and hotels—kind of like playing Monopoly in the physical world with your phone. Unlike the first game, however, Tap City 2 lets you travel to other locations virtually (some 35 million venues worldwide, via Foursquare API), so you can interact with players who are physically far away. Players can also sign up to “work” at virtual stores—for example, making coffees as a barista at Starbucks (see screenshot above), in exchange for points and virtual goods.

In most location-based games, including the first … Next Page »

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Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and Editor of Xconomy Boston. E-mail him at gthuang [at] Follow @gthuang

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