Game Changers ride system brings new approach to interactive rides

By Michael Mascioni

INTERACTIVITY can easily become a gimmick and a one trick pony in rides. CAVU Designwerks, a developer of media-based attractions, and Framestore, an Oscar award winning visual effects studio, have embarked on a mission to overhaul that image with their joint development of the Game Changers interactive ride system.

By pooling CAVU’s engineering expertise and Framestore’s expertise in storytelling and visuals, Game Changers is designed to offer an interactive ride experience “with virtually endless options” that‘s aimed at connecting interactivity with storytelling, according to Francine Schnabel, vice-president for CAVU Designwerks. Game Changers was formally launched at the IAAPA Attractions Expo in November, she reports.

The system uses CAVU’s proprietary ride system and body tracking technology, which allow the system to change diverse elements constantly in real-time based on the monitoring of user interactions. The aim of these new attractions is to mimic and integrate “real life interaction, involving talking, gesturing and pitching, into the ride experience,” notes Mark Stepanian of CAVU Designwerks.

Gavin Fox, Framestore’s creative director, explains the special value of this form of  interactivity. “Game Changers introduces a new approach that integrates storytelling and interaction into one idea; where guests can interact with the story itself, not just their score,” he says. “With Game Changers, we’re allowing guests to ‘choose their own adventure’ and giving them a way to a situation as it happens. They get to choose how they want to deal with it and genuinely make the story their own.”

The ride’s story is affected by the guest’s voice, drumming, clapping and hand movements. Riders even have a chance to hurl virtual snowballs at others, discover new paths and change the scenery.

One of the other key advantages of the system is that it allows guests to play with other guests on the same ride and on other Game Changer rides, explains Stepanian. As he elaborates: “Guests visit theme parks for social interaction, so rather than limiting guests to interaction with show sets and screens, Game Changers encourages guests to interact with each other and work together or competitively to drive the story.”

Game Changers is particularly targeted at younger audiences in general that are conditioned by “role-playing experiences,” says Stepanian. The attraction essentially offers them the opportunity to interact with distinctive and “unique social experiences far beyond what’s possible for commercial use.”

Although Game Changers is particularly well suited to amusement parks, it’s also geared to smaller FECs and UECs, according to Schnabel. As she notes: “The three main experiences for Games Changers are all customisable to provide optimal throughput for leisure facilities ranging from amusement parks to FECs to any location-based entertainment venues in between.”

According to Schnabel, the marketing campaign for Game Changers is different to the typical image for ride systems, with an emphasis on vibrancy, colourfulness and playfulness rather than on the dark momentousness that she feels is more common for promoting new rides.

Game Changers offers a wider interactive vista and intriguing new twists on gamified rides. It’s also representative of a growing trend in attractions towards “delivering new immersive technologies, such as projection mapping, all driven in real time,” says Schnabel. As Game Changers indicates, interactivity in attractions is becoming more holistic, organic and expansive.

Article first appeared in InterPark.

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