New phone game one for the birds

An example of a ‘‘bed and breakfast’’ players would make in Runaway Play's new game Bird BnB. Photo: Supplied
An example of a ‘‘bed and breakfast’’ players would make in Runaway Play's new game Bird BnB. Photo: Supplied
Dunedin games company Runaway Play has released its first augmented reality [AR] game.

‘‘Bird BnB’’ gets players to use their phone cameras along with AR technology in the game to plant a tree where birds can be cared for.

Players are then rated on how well they treat various birds.

‘‘You check in different birds and there’s lots of different species and they’re all real-world species as well,’’ Runaway Play managing director Zoe Hobson said.

‘‘Every bird has a different list of needs they need you to take care of. They might need to eat some berries, have a bath or have a nap.

‘‘You work through these tasks with each of the birds and then when they check out depending on how well you’ve looked after them they’ll give you a rating for your bed and breakfast.’’

The free game came out today and can be downloaded on Google and Apple app stores.

It has taken Runaway staff a year to build.

‘‘It’s really exciting to get to see [it] go live,’’ Ms Hobson said.

‘‘We’ll be watching and seeing how the players react to it as it rolls out all over the world.’’

Runaway Play were particularly interested in how its biggest markets — China and the US — would react.

The company had been experimenting with AR but this was its first game fully using that technology.

Bringing in a new technology meant staff would upskill themselves as they kept up with game design and maintenance.

AR connects with the cameras on people’s phones to overlay the game on real-world images from the lens of the phone.

‘‘If you imagine that you are on your phone playing the game and then you turn on AR mode and then you can then hold your phone up and see the real world ... looking through a camera. You can place the Bird BnB tree in the real world.’’

Runaway’s player base, usually women aged 18 to 45, had requested a game involving birds.

Runaway has plans to release a new game this year called Old Friends Dog Sanctuary.

That game will be based on a real dog sanctuary in Tennessee that is well known among social media users.

jacob.mcsweeny@odt.co.nz

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