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City Game: Blending Travel and Gaming to Create a New Experience
08/25/2016
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When we're thinking about visiting another city, how much preparation is required beforehand? Searching information on things to do and planning your itinerary are all hassles that cannot be avoided. But, what if all you had to do was open a game box, and its story, missions and puzzles would take you on a journey to all the sights worth visiting? What if this game eliminated the need for you to research and prepare beforehand?


That's part of the charm of City Game.


City Game is a completely new type of travel gaming. It provides players with missions and goals, combining puzzle solving and exploration with local elements into the story of the game. City Game turns your trip into a gaming adventure, creating a whole new travel experience.


For example, at the beginning of the game, players enter the game by watching a cinematic. In the cinematic, several police officers might be discussing the case of a missing girl in the city. The police officers have encountered difficulties finding the girl, and can only turn to you the players for help. With a limited amount of information, players must use their own judgment as they are asked to go to various locations within the city to find more clues. Then, after a process of deduction and puzzle solving, players will be able to find a way to save the girl. The goal of travelling is also achieved just by playing the game. This is the story from the "True Escape" game that took place in March of 2016, which the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Tainan City Government commissioned the "City Game Group" to design. "True Escape" attracted thousands of people to come out and participate in the game. In the end, hundreds of players gathered for the return of the missing girl after having helped find her.

(For news related to "True Escape", see: http://goo.gl/oVXapk)


In reality, this isn't the first time gaming has been used to promote tourism. In 2009, gaming industry giant Ubisoft released "Assassin's Creed 2", which placed a strong emphasis on the local history and architectural design. The beauty of the streets and landscape of Italy from several scenes of the game inspired awe in players, which resulted in a large number of players travelling to Italy to go on "Assassin's Creed" tours. A review in The New York Times stated that, "No matter how much money the Italian Tourism Bureau spends, it would never be able to create the same amount of tourism revenue that resulted from the game." From this, gaming’s ability to serve as an excellent cultural transmission vehicle can be seen, leading to massive market potential.


Compared to video games, where players interact with a computer screen and enter virtual worlds, City Game takes players directly to the site of the game, transforming real life surroundings into a gaming environment complete with a story and mechanics, enabling players to enter a parallel universe. Players exist in the same world as other people, yet have completely different interactions and experiences with the same scenes and objects encountered. For most players, this is definitely a new type of gaming experience.

The year 2016 has been called the year of Virtual Reality (VR). However, we have yet to see any VR game explode in popularity. Instead, it has been Ingress' Pokémon Go which has taken the world by storm and drawn large numbers of players into the world of augmented reality (AR). Although Ingress has not had to resort to placement marketing using the well-known Pokémon IP to market Pokémon Go, they have still managed to accumulate a large number of loyal players around the world in the past year. This shows that AR gaming has its own appeal, and the Pokémon Go craze is not only a product of Pokemon nostalgia.


The biggest difference between City Game and these AR games is not that one is defined as a mobile game. Nor, does this difference stand out on a technical level. Rather, the difference between the two is how they each connect with local elements. The contents of City Game are intimately connected to the location of the game. For City Game to be ported onto a mobile or AR platform using devices, such as Google Glass, is something that is well within reach. We believe that if compared under the same scale, City Gaming will be able to create an even stronger sense of immersion than both of the above mentioned AR games.


Perhaps in the near future, the first thing to consider before going on a trip won’t be the itinerary, but which game to download or purchase!

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