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.
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 360-video tours around Wellington attractions, education institutions and workplaces.
WellTown takes VR users on a fun, gamified tour around Wellington, a small and compact city surrounded by hills and harbour, famous for its cafés, art and culture, tech scene and movie industry that’s produced the likes of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, Avatar and latterly 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 (Māori 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.
For those wanting to take a closer look at what Wellington has to offer, Explore More provides the opportunity to immerse yourself 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 WellingtonNZ, the region’s tourism organisation. 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.”
Some of the capital’s best talent – led by local production companies Wrestler and Mixt - is behind the creation of the Virtual Wellington experience.
The city 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).
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.”
WellTown used city-wide data to create the virtual Wellington City and then added a layer of story and gamification 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 WellingtonNZ.com
* Wellington was named the most liveable city in the world in 2017 and 2018 in Deutsche Bank‘s Quality of Life Survey.
**Wellington was ranked New Zealand’s most creative city in New Zealand by Infometrics
Wellington for visitors
Situated around a picturesque harbour and surrounded by bush-covered hills, Wellington is New Zealand’s capital and the seat of the country’s government. The compact city is famous for its art scene, strong coffee and café culture, scenic waterfront, liberal residents and wild nature. And it’s wind. Dubbed the coolest little capital in the world by Lonely Planet, Wellington is also currently ranked the world’s #1 most liveable city by Deutsche Bank. The wider Wellington is home to around 520,000 people and hugs the southern coast of New Zealand’s North Island.
- Lonely Planet named Wellington as New Zealand’s top destination to visit in 2018.
- Named by National Geographic as one of the world’s top food cities, Wellington has more restaurants, cafes and bars per capita than New York City.
- Experience Michelin-style Māori cuisine at the newly opened Hiakai restaurant, from top chef Monique Fiso who stars in Netflix’s The Final Table.
- Wellington is nestled between two of New Zealand’s major wine producing regions – the Wairarapa, known for its rich pinot noir, and Marlborough, home to world-famous sauvignon blanc.
- Wellington is known for its craft beer scene, with almost 20 breweries and dedicated craft beer bars in the central city alone, and home to the annual national beer festival, Beervana (every August).
- With 12 coffee roasteries and cafes on almost every corner, it’s fair to say Wellingtonians love their coffee. CNN agrees, naming Wellington one of the world’s best coffee destinations.
- Lovers of artisanal food can visit Harbourside Markets, Night Markets, and Hannahs Laneway for Wellington Chocolate Factory, Fix & Fogg peanut butter and Lashings chocolate brownies.
- Te Papa, the national museum of New Zealand, is a recognised world-leader in interactive and visitor focused museum experiences and was recently named one of Lonely Planet's top 500 places to see on the planet.
- Fans of Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, King Kong, Thunderbirds are Go and Avatar, can go behind the scenes of Wellington’s movie industry at Weta Workshop, ranked by The Guardian in the top 10 best film studio tours in the world.