New Zealand’s innovative capital, Wellington, home to a booming tech and screen industry has transformed itself into what is believed to be the world’s first gamified virtual city.
Virtual Wellington allows people to explore and interact with the city without boarding a plane. It includes an interactive game, WellTown, available for free download in the Steam and Oculus VR stores, and a number of 360 video tours around Wellington attractions, education institutions and workplaces.
Made up of six short virtual experiences, players can shoot coffee at caffeine-deprived zombies as they finish their morning commute, take an underwater dive in Wellington’s pristine harbour as a curious whale swims by, listen to the dawn chorus of birdsong in the native bush that surrounds the city, busk with a local band on Wellington’s coolest street, stand beneath a starlit sky during Matariki (Maori New Year) and help people take a leap off a diving platform on Wellington’s vibrant waterfront.
After completing each experience, players receive a physical adornment which transforms them (or at least the avatar they’ve chosen) into their best, most creative self.
For those wanting to take a closer look at what Wellington has to offer, Explore More provides the opportunity to immerse themselves in some of Wellington’s most iconic experiences via 360 video. Westpac Stadium features as the home of Wellington sport and people can stand on the field beside the All Blacks as they sing the national anthem ahead of the South Africa test match.
“We are proud to be involved in this exciting and innovative digital showcase of Wellington. Westpac Stadium is one of the most iconic venues in the city and this virtual reality experience brings the event experience to life,” says Shane Harmon, CEO of Westpac Stadium.
“Thank you to New Zealand Rugby for their support in allowing us to capture the sights and sounds of what it is like to be on the pitch at a full-house All Blacks test match. This is truly a unique experience and we are thrilled to be able to share it with a global audience through this game”.
The game has been created by the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency. General Manager Anna Calver says Wellington is New Zealand’s capital of tech and creativity, and a game was the natural next step in how to encourage people to visit Wellington.
“Virtual Wellington is about giving people a sense of what Wellington is like as a place, showcasing its creativity and lifestyle through new technologies being developed right here in the city,” Ms Calver says. “The virtual reality application is a really fun way to explore a place that you might not know much about. It shows off how beautiful our city is, our creativity, and our quirky hipster vibe.”
Ms Calver says some of the capital’s talent – lead by local production companies Wrestler and Mixt - was behind the creation of the Virtual Wellington experience.
Wrestler co-founder Kat Lintott, makers of WellTown, says they struck upon the gamification of Wellington as a novel way of telling the Wellington story.
“It allows people to experience the Wellington lifestyle from afar, showcases the creative tech talent in the city while also appealing to the legion of VR game fans globally.
Virtual Wellington is free to download from the Steam and Oculus VR stores and can be viewed on YouTube. An android and iOS version are in the works.
View the behind the scenes video here.