The HipShotDot is advertised as “the industry’s first powered red dot sight attachment that dramatically improves gameplay performance.” It is, in simple terms, a red LED that you can stick in place on your TV or monitor, and it’s designed to be used as a sort of permanent laser sight/highly-visible cross-hair to allow first-person shooter players to aim more quickly and accurately.
The product’s name comes from the idea of “shooting from the hip,” which in FPS games refers to firing a weapon without actually raising the gun up to aim “properly.” The HipShotDot is also useful for “quick scoping,” which means raising and firing a weapon extremely quickly — usually too quickly to have possibly aimed using a gun’s scope or built-in cross-hair. It’s easy to see how this kind of quick shooting would be a lot easier if you had a bright red dot positioned on the center of your screen at all times, whether you had your gun raised or not.
Here’s a product video straight from Airdrop Gaming, the company behind the HipShotDot, showing it in all its glory [Updated after first video was removed from YouTube]:[embedvideo id=”wkrsF-VVo9k” website=”youtube”]
Better than a piece of tape?
This kind of aim-assistance outside of a particular game is not a new idea. In fact, it’s a concept that’s just about as old as competitive FPS gaming itself. For decades now gamers have been figuring out ways to do exactly what the HipShotDot does, using methods as primitive as a piece of tape placed in the center of a monitor and as sophisticated as permanent cross-hairs provided by software overlays.
Knowing that the fact that the HipShotDot does a job which has previously been done by a piece of tape had to be something that Airdrop Gaming had considered, I asked their Co-Founder, Tim Murphy about it at E3 2014. He smiled and responded simply, “But a piece of tape doesn’t glow!”
As illustrated by Murphy’s tongue-in-cheek response, Airdrop Gaming has a great attitude about the HipShotDot. They’re well aware that there are other ways to do what their product does, but they also know that what they’re selling does the job in a much cooler fashion than anything else available. And since it retails for only around thirty dollars, it isn’t like they’re asking gamers to spend a fortune on it.
When Airdrop Gaming imagines their target customer, it’s a competitive gamer looking for every possible advantage, or maybe an older gamer who doesn’t have all the time in the world to practice thanks to the realities of adult life, but who does have thirty bucks to spend and a burning desire to show the twelve-year-olds on Xbox Live that he isn’t a total loser.
Slim cables and fat USBs
Seeing the HipShotDot in person at E3 was a fun experience. The red dot is intensely clear and bright, and since it’s an LED it has a lifespan of “basically forever,” according to Murphy. Every aspect of the design of the product seems well thought out, from the extra-slim cable that runs down your screen without obscuring your view to the extra-long USB connector built with the hard-to-reach ports on the Xbox 360 in mind, but compatible with any USB slot just as easily.
The HipShotDot can be used with just about any TV or monitor, and if you have more than one and enough USB ports handy it can even be used in multiples in a split-screen setup with friends. It’s a well-thought-out piece of tech that is much more visually appealing than any of the more primitive solutions upon which gamers have previously relied.
But is it cheating?
Oh, yeah, right. I almost forgot.
Is the HipShotDot cheating?
Since aim-assistance tools, both physical and software-based, have been around for a long time, the debate over whether the various techniques constitute cheating has been raging for a long time too. This Rust thread on Reddit is just one of thousands of similar discussions that have taken place over the years, and the issue hasn’t been settled yet. Some people argue that all possible methods of enhancing your aim should be allowed, while others stand fast and insist that any aim-assistance that isn’t part of the game itself is a form of cheating. For many, their response depends on the specifics of the method in question.
I asked Tim Murphy the question, point-blank: “Is the HipShotDot cheating?” And just as before, his response made it immediately apparent it was a question he’d considered many times.
“Maybe,” he said with a shrug and a laugh, “But on a scale of 1-10 for cheating, it’s maybe a 1 or a 2, right?”
That seems like a fair response to me. There’s no possible way to stop people from doing what the HipShotDot does, so there’s no real harm in a product that makes the whole process cooler and more professional-looking.
The HipShotDot is available now, and Airdrop Gaming plans to release a version of the product with adjustable color and brightness some time in 2015.