This year, a new category was added to the ANWB selection for ‘The Funniest Day Out’: The Most Innovative Excursion. ‘The Nature Game’ an augmented reality (AR) experience with game form received this award this year. Marieke van Doorn accepted the award and explains what makes her concept so unique.
Prior to choosing the most innovative day out, there was a thorough preparation. A team of expert jury members made a long list of attractions and concepts that were eligible for the award; Students at BUAS assessed the nominees based on self-defined criteria. And finally, families, selected by the review website Go-kids.nl, visited the five attractions that scored highest on the rating of BUAS students.
The game of nature
‘The Nature Game’ was realized in 2016 in Veluwe (which has since been discontinued), and has got a worthy sequel in Drenthe in 2019, with the story ‘De Koets van Kibbelhoek’. New techniques were introduced here, making the experience even more lifelike. †
Marieke van Doorn is the creator and implementer of the experience and game concept. As a pioneer, she conceived and designed this game and therefore studied the concept and technique thoroughly. Broadly speaking, The Nature Game consists of three parts:
- A movie that draws you into a story
- Games where you have to perform tasks and gain knowledge
- The overall puzzle that runs like a red thread through the story, and with which one works towards a ‘happy ending’.
What distinguishes this concept from other AR concepts?
Van Doorn: “Many AR productions use animations that are added to reality on screen. It is a relatively expensive technique, which in my experience was not sufficient because it does not look ‘natural’ enough. We have chosen 3D movie images, with real actors and props. Where many other location-based games use google maps as a base (with the familiar poi drops), we have chosen a self-designed experience map as a base. In a good overall concept, you do not want to experience any disturbing elements in the experience ”
‘Experience’ is an important part of your concept for you. Can you explain how you incorporated such an experience into The Nature Game?
Friend Doorn: “It was a pretty intensive process. The basis is the information about the area, where you will find larger and smaller stories, which form the basis of your own storyline. Because we work with movies, the characters also speak directly to you. For example, there is the forester who knows a lot about the area, but white women and road men are also part of the experience. We have also looked closely at the selection of matching music, which further enhances the experience. You see the story through a laptop computer. Because the film is shot in 3D, you need to scan around well to get all parts of the story. If you play the game again, you will no doubt see new elements. In addition, as a player you can influence the course of the story. I also draw inspiration from other sources. For example, I am very touched by elements from the movie Harry Potter, such as ‘the invisible card’, on which ‘the invisible’ Harry Potter sees himself moving. I also used that idea in this concept. You see yourself, like an avatar, walking around on that card! ‘”
You yourself have a background in the art sector. What role does it play in the development of such a concept?
Van Doorn: “I attended three different art academies – each with a different angle. This is convenient when distilling the USPs in an area. I’m aware of this the burning (marketing opportunities hidden in the region), the spatial design (how to design a game in the right scale and in a good balance) and the artistic side (designing a story and experience that moves people emotionally). What I have also learned in the academies is to add a layer to the experience. There you can experience the same concept in different ways. Finally, my teaching experience also comes in handy at the Nature Game. We provide the visitor with a wealth of knowledge and information in a playful way. ”
Did you also learn something during the process of realizing The Nature Game?
Van Doorn: “Of course. From the beginning, we have mainly focused on realizing a special game with a unique experience. In the end, it turns out that a good concept alone is not enough to make the project commercially successful. This also requires a good “Marketing and / or involved commercial party. With the high quality that we strive for, it is also important that you work with professional parties. With this concept, we are particularly dependent on reliable and expert support to develop and maintain the gaming element.”
The editors of Pretwerk.nl were involved in this election as a jury member for this election and the long list of 12 attractions per. province.