Kelowna Museums was “catching em’ all” before Nintendo.
With the recent release of Pokemon Go augmented reality games have become all the rage. Nintendo has captured the attention of tens of millions of mobile gamers with the advent of a digital world of mini monsters layered over the real world. The game seems to have risen to popularity partly due to the nostalgia of the Pokemon franchise, the aspect of exploration, and that special something that produces viral success. Due to it’s popularity many are jumping on the bandwagon, but did you know there was augmented reality in Kelowna long BEFORE Pikachu made his triumphant return?
In 2015 Kelowna Museums partnered with QuestUpon to bring history alive on Bernard Ave with the development of the “Pigs on Bernard” quest. Gamers are taken on a historical tour of downtown Kelowna where they will chase virtual pigs, answer trivia, and explore the city’s heritage. The gamification of the past creates an opportunity to share stories in an entirely new fashion according to Kelowna Museums Society Executive Director, Linda Digby.
“By pairing up cutting edge virtual technology with the telling of the story of Kelowna’s rich, cultural heritage, we bring the past to life in a brand new way,” she says. Other community organizations have also recognized the value in augmented reality games. The City of Kelowna has recently launched the “Knox Your Sox Off!” and the “Knox Challenge” to create an interactive and fun way to enjoy your hike up Knox Mountain Park.
Mobile augmented reality is the new frontier and the fringe benefits of these games are fantastic for gamers and communities alike. They bring people outside to get active and explore their communities, possibly discovering landmarks and other interesting things that may have otherwise been overlooked. However, unlike Pokemon Go, the “Pigs on Bernard” challenge won’t lead you into someone’s back yard, but instead take you along the routes of historic downtown Kelowna. So if you want to see buildings on Bernard as they were in the early 1900’s; learn some fascinating facts; see a Sternwheeler on the lake; and chase down some squealing piggies – download the QuestUpon app and launch “Pigs on Bernard”. Who knows, once you’ve made your way to the Okanagan Heritage Museum, you might also discover some Pokestops nearby!