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NZ’s creative capital, Wellington, becomes world’s first gamified city

30 Jan 2019

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.

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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.

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.

WellTown gives VR users a fun, gamified tour around Wellington, a small and compact city

surrounded by hills and harbour, famous for its cafes, art and culture, tech scene and movie industry that’s produced the likes of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, Avatar and Mortal Engines.

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.

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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 – from an All Blacks rugby test match at Westpac Stadium and the office of Wellington-based global online accountancy firm Xero, to a special glimpse of a Weta Studio Tour at the Oscar-winning Weta Workshop.

Players can switch between the WellTown and Explore More components of Virtual Wellington as an outrageous local guides users around the coolest little capital in the world.

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.”

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester always knew Wellington was good enough to bottle.

“Virtual Wellington is essentially a high-tech bottling of the city that allows it to be taken to the world. It will increase Wellington’s international reputation as an innovative tech city with the world’s best lifestyle.

“Even though we’re a small city, Wellington is packed with idea makers, creators and influencers. We’re ranked as the most creative city in New Zealand** with a large entrepreneurial community of more than 900 business start-ups, numerous art galleries, events and exhibitions, hundreds of cafes and craft breweries, an Oscar-winning movie industry and top-ranked education institutions.”

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.

“Wellington has a growing cluster of AR/VR firms creating content for a range of domestic and international clients, alongside content made for Magic Leap and Apple by Weta Gameshop and Wingnut AR (owned by Wellington’s movie titans Sir Peter Jackson and Sir Richard Taylor).

“Whatever way you look at it, Wellington is creating the next generation of entertainment experiences.”

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.

“We used city-wide data supplied by Wellington City Council to create the virtual Wellington City and then added a layer of story and gamification though utilising motion capture, CG, 360 interactive video and photogrammetry.”

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.

Find out more at which includes the video trailer.