If you can connect people to a place, you can motivate them to get to know it and look after it. With this in mind, in 2022, Frontgrid completed a research project on how to use virtual reality (VR) to connect people with real world places.
The direct outputs were creating 3 games in a new games series called Fly Snowdon, launched at Adventure Parc Snowdonia, in North Wales on ParadropVR’s new motion-based-hardware called ParadropVR Pod.
The games explore a VR environment which is an exact topographical representation of the Snowdonia National Park mountain range, and use in-game experiential learning to teach flyers about their locality and encourage them to drive positive action in the real world.
The games look to balance creating an impactful entertaining experience, whilst driving certain learning outcomes.
The first game in the series, called Snowdon Navigator, aimed to orientate people in the park, introducing them to its possibilities. This included showing them the names of the mountains, the lakes, and key footpaths, as well as the lay of the land and how it relates to the surrounding coastline. It is very much about acquainting people with the landscape and encouraging them to have a look around.
The second game, Peak Challenge, aimed to get people to explore a little further. Looking primarily to combat the notion that Snowdon, the highest peak in Snowdonia, is the main attraction and only peak to climb. Snowdon, particularly during the COVID lockdowns of recent years, experienced unsustainable footfall for the environment and local services, as tourists flocked to bag the park’s most popular peak. Snowdon Peak Challenge shows flyers that there are actually several mountain ranges in the park and lesser known beautiful places to explore, encouraging them to seek out alternative routes in the real world. Participants in the game follow a renowned walking path, called the 14 peaks, which takes in the park’s highest peaks over 3,000 feet and crosses its three mountain ranges. As they pass each peak they collect points and if they collect all of the peaks they are rewarded with an achievement on their online profile. They are also encouraged to download an information pack which tells them more about the park and how to treat it carefully.
Finally Snowdon by Night, quite literally switched the lights off on the experience. Giving participants a sensory feeling of what it is like flying at night over the park. Snowdonia is one of the designated Dark Skies reserves in the UK, which means it actively educates people about reducing light pollution to benefit both wildlife and well being. A result of the low levels of light pollution is that it offers clear skies at night and is one of the best places to see the stars in the UK. The game encourages people to explore the VR environment at night, as they fly towards constellations they learn about them. As well as what they can do as individuals to help preserve the night environment by reducing their own light pollution footprint. To create this experience accurately, Frontgrid created a sky box, which has the constellations as you would see them on a particular date.
You can download the accompanying information packs to the games at https://www.paradropvr.com/games.php by scrolling to the Fly Snowdon game series section. These are useful resources for the likes of school groups visiting the installation or those wanting to learn more about the area post their ParadropVR experience.
The Fly Snowdon installation is open at Adventure Parc Snowdonia and receiving positive press as well as being commercially successful, with flyers paying £7.50 per flight. The research project and the launch proves the concept that VR can be used to connect people with real world places and drive positive action in the real world. And Frontgrid has plenty more ideas for development to support education around sustainability and meaningful entertainment. Watch this space and if any venue has a real life location they would like to explore creating a VR experience of, please get in touch.
More information can be found here.