The Chicago Comics and Entertainment Convention 2015 came and went. C2E2 featured incredible guests, awesome cosplay, and just plain old fun.
Walking around the show floor, I noticed groups of people wandering around certain areas with their face in their phone. Upon further inspection, everyone had an app opened up that looked like a map of the show floor with some odd text and graphics around it. It wasn’t until I reached the booth that was the source of this app that I realized what was going on.
I got to partake in a game of BattleKasters, which is basically a live action game that takes place in a public event. BattleKasters is based on the Legends of Orkney book series. You complete quests and objectives based on your location via your mobile device, and others are partaking in the adventure alongside you. Sounds like a really cool concept right?
I signed up and downloaded the app pretty quickly. It was running on a beta program that then loads up the BattleKasters app once you sign up and login. My phone quickly became my map, and the show floor lit up with several beacons that I had to travel to in order to complete my objectives.
A convention is a perfect setup for this: huge show floor, multiple areas to “explore”, and obstacles tend to be the people and vendors you must weave through to complete your objective. There were times I would get distracted and forget I was playing, then would feel a vibration in my pocket to realize I was close to a beacon. Beacons are locations set up by the game masters to serve as the questing areas that will activate your missions. Once you arrive at a beacon, quests are then completed, items are collected in the form a cards, and more of the story is revealed.
So I had fun for the first few locations, but as the game went on it became more of a chore. Mind you I was trying to take in everything C2E2 had to offer PLUS playing this game, so I was plenty distracted. I had to backtrack to the other side of the convention show floor when I realized I missed a beacon. So why was I beginning to not have fun with it?
For one thing, you get no rewarding feedback from the game to feel progression like you would in other games. It probably would have been more fun with a group of friends competing or families, but not a lowly video game blogger on his own. I think BattleKasters has a great idea, but more implementation to really drive home the interactive and live-action nature of the game would really help. Maybe having elements to physically interact with apart from the digital aspect could make this even more fun and fulfill some of those reward pathways in the brain.
All that being said, I encourage you to try out the app. If you are a fan of the books, this may even be a better experience to fight alongside characters from Legends of Orkney. Test it for yourself, and let us know what you think in the comments below. For more info check out http://battlekasters.com/about/.