stories for resilience, inspired by design & technology

Digital game companies in outdoor play

hybridplay
Hybrid Play uses a smart phone and a giant ‘clip’ sensor

With the arrival of Pokemon Go, many parents noticed that a digital game can, in fact, get kids moving around outside. Pokemon Go uses ‘augmented reality’ where, looking through the camera on a device such as a smartphone, one sees computer imagery superimposed on a real life setting.

Now other companies are looking at the potential of enriching outdoor play using ‘augmented reality’ and other digital technology. This Guardian article profiles three companies getting into the field (along with useful critiques). I’ve included excerpts from the article:

Hybrid Play is a Spanish start-up which uses augmented reality (AR) – patching computer imagery on to real life – to transform playgrounds into video games. A wireless sensor resembling an over-sized clothes peg clips onto any piece of playground equipment. It then registers the movement of the children as they play and converts it into video games to play through a smartphone.

Greg Zeschuk, co-founder of gaming company BioWare (makers of the Jade Empire, Mass Effect and Dragon Age series), is now head of the AR start-up Biba. Its premise is that “all the playgrounds on Earth are actually the wreckage of robot spacecraft”. As kids enter a playground they meet a robot companion on their smartphone. Zeschuck has admitted that “after a career of putting people on their butts for hundreds of hours playing games, I’m trying to pay back the world by making games that make kids go outside.”

TP Toys, for example, recently added AR to its portfolio. The Lil’ Monkey climbing frame comes with an app that children use to play with a monkey character that climbs on the frame and suggests different games and levels to complete.

Have you tried any of these? How could they be used to enhance ecological learning or get kids involved in designing?

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