When Game Development Teaching and Interactive Tourism Development meet

The experience as a teacher at IPCA (Instituto Politécnico do Cávado e do Ave), with the constant need of research and investigation in multiple fields such as Virtual Environments and Advanced Game Development, has given me valuable knowledge that I was not only able to pass along to my students but also apply in the daily work life, namely in the development of interactive tourism apps at X-Plora.

However, bringing gamification and interactivity together has been quite a challenge! Merging the dopamine and adrenaline rush that we are used to while playing a game but also the interactivity, beauty, and intellectual growth while visiting a museum was something difficult to imagine, conceptualize and bring to life.

But now, with AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality), the Interactive Tourism brings a new refreshing interface, that demands to be included in the typical audiobook app style.

By applying Augmented Reality to the experience, we can augment paintings or statues, give the visitor contextualized and rich information as if he was playing a game, where they can interact with what they are seeing in multiple ways. Visitors can go for a walk with Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon, meet a border policeman from 1945 in Berlin, see the artist itself talking about the work of art, or perhaps go on an adventure and discover hidden places while competing with other players.

Utilizing Virtual Reality (VR), we can transport users to a broad new virtual environment as if they were inside a game, enabling them to walk around and explore that alternate reality! Exploring a full-scale church of the XVII century is now a possibility, even if it does not exist anymore. A great example is what X-Plora did in Almeida, where the long-gone castle was recreated from scratch, two hundred years after disappearing during the french invasions.

With the exponential increase in tourists’ expectations, endless options for new and updated tourist attractions, and the technological wave that is constantly stealing our attention, it is becoming more and more challenging for museums and city tourism departments to keep on attracting, engaging, and entertaining visitors.

Gamification represents a great solution to achieve these challenges, contributing to more rewarding interactions and a higher level of satisfaction, as well as increasing brand awareness and loyalty to the destination.

With the adoption of Augmented and Virtual Reality, the possibilities are endless. It’s a bright new world out there, where the limit might just be your imagination!

– Rafael Pereira

X-Plora’s Unity Developer.

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