Geo AR Games

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Sharks in the Park is what it says on the box, and can be played in any outdoor environment that meets the spec. Roads are obviously not ideal but the app does throw up warnings when a player reaches the edge of the play area. Magical Park is site-specific, programmed for and only available in certain locations.

“We pre-assess sites for safety,” Langlotz said. “They need to be flat and of a certain size, and we stay away from ones with potential dangers like a pond.

“We have a spec sheet with examples of good and bad locations, so land owners – usually a council – can make recommendations themselves. We’re a different demographic to playgrounds, which are primarily targeting 3 – 7 year olds. We aim more at the 6 – 11 year old age group, the kids who are more likely to have a device.”

The Sharks in the Park and Magical Park apps are available on iOS and Android.

Geo AR Games recently ran pilots in parks in Auckland and Wellington. All that tech produces a lot of data, even from a limited trial. How’s it getting used?

There’s information the team is getting that reinforces some assumptions that they’d made when creating it. There’s also data which is helping to improve aspects of the experience. There are anecdotal reports and responses too, which can’t be used in any formal way but are nonetheless rewarding – such as the parent who reported their autistic child had engaged with the game in ways they hadn’t seen previously.

So what does the usable data say?

Kids are using the app for an average of around 30 minutes, and they’re travelling distances between half a kilometre and over two kilometres while they’re playing. Those numbers alone should be driving interest in the app.

The data measures the use of a device, not the number of people using a device. It’s fair to assume that – as the app targets kids 6-11 – there’s an adult in tow more often than not. How many of those adults are also bringing partners and other children along is not tracked but it’s possible to make some educated guesses.

The trials were run in a small number of venues for a reasonably short period of time, but the data is useful in making improvements.

Some of it’s not rocket science, says Langlotz,. “Installing Magical Park in parks which have car parking draws larger numbers of players, and more frequent players.”

The placement of the onsite signage (the only physical element in the set-up, as far as users are concerned) is also important. Langlotz re-specs Geo AR Games’ documents as they determine findings from the data.

One thing the trial did do was create some new opportunities. Some teachers found out about the trial, gave it a go. Then they contacted Geo AR Games to enquire about getting site-specific Magical Park installations in their schools. There’ve also been enquiries about using it for Maori language education.

A couple of good bake sales would cover a school’s annual fee for an installation.

The Halloween edition of Magical Park

The Halloween edition of Magical Park

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