Monday, May 20, 2024

Barry Curtis Park a digital playground

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ADVENTURE: A chance to explore an alien fantasy world at the digital playground in Barry Curtis Park. Photo supplied.

If you spot children excitedly running after aliens at Barry Curtis Park, don’t be too surprised. One of the world’s first digital parks, the spot is now officially a Magical Park.

Recently introduced in parks throughout New Zealand and Australia, Magical Parks is an augmented reality mobile app by New Zealand start-up Geo AR Games, launched in 200 parks across Australasia.

It is an app available on iOS and Android smartphone or tablets which creates augmented reality – think Pokemon – worlds for kids to explore in their local park spaces.

Magical Park has been made specifically for councils around New Zealand and the world for selected locations.

Barry Curtis Park is one of the three parks in Auckland offering the geofence game. A geofence is a virtual perimeter for a real-world geographic area. Geofencing utilises GPS tracking.

The idea behind Magical Park is to turn city parks into digital playgrounds for kids from 6-11. It aims to get tech-savvy children out and about in urban parks.

INTERACTIVE: Barry Curtis Park is now officially a Magical Park. Photo supplied.

You can download it by searching for Magical Park in the App Store or Google Play Store.  These Magical Parks include two mixed reality motion game worlds – Augmentia and Dino Land. Augmenti is a fantasy theme including a giant blue dragon; while Dino Land allows players to interact with prehistoric playmates on large, grassy areas.

“Kids can see life-sized dinosaurs and explore worlds filled with fairies and dragons,” says Melanie Langlotz, chief executive officer Geo AR Games, who first thought of the idea when she was doing her post graduate studies in entrepreneurship.

She later developed the strategy with co-founder Amie Wolken, an expert in coding.

“Pokemon is ancient, compared to these virtual reality games that offer a lot more,” she says.

“For one, it is not a dangerous game and has been designed for the size of a football field which gives children an opportunity to run, around two kilometres. In our trial runs, we had children huffing and puffing.”

It’s a wholesome approach to the game with cutting-edge technology, she says. “Our model was very different as we worked with New Zealand Recreation Associations along with park rangers in New Zealand and Australia. Everyone has a stake in it,” she says.

When the Times asked around  if anyone in the area had a chance to experience the digital fantasy world at Barry Curtis Park, no one seemed to be  aware of it.

We would love to hear from you if your children have been playing at the Magical Park.

 

  • Do you think converting an urban park into a digital fantasy land will get more children out to play with their device? Will it shape the future use of our parks? Email faridam@times.co.nz

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