Sun and games for REACTOR participants

Published: 12 July 2017 at 15:29


The school summer holidays may be rapidly coming in to focus but by no means has this diminished the determination of REACTOR’s participants. Early evening on Monday 3 July, 15 enthusiasts, small-business owners and REACTOR mentors congregated for the first Summer Meetup, at the Hilton Cambridge City Centre.

An opportunity for interested parties to ‘feed their brains’ and get together with like-minded people – both those who have experience in the field of gamification and those who want to find out how they can use gamification to enhance existing business or lifestyle experiences – attendees had the chance to chat and hear updates on the 2017 Big Games Challenge, and to find out more about challengers’ working concepts.

The Big Games Challenge theme for 2017 is ‘Exploring Local Culture and Heritage’, and the highlight of the meetup was a talk given by Becky Roberts from Visit Cambridge. Becky spoke about Visit Cambridge’s core purpose being “to grow the value of the visitor economy by promoting Cambridge and the surrounding area and providing the best possible visitor experience”, and that the organisation anticipates achieving this by undertaking research to better understand the current picture; delivering ‘added value’ to visitors and partners; and providing visitor information when and how they want to receive it. Such insight provided food for thought for new participants and, for those who have already been involved in the Big Games Challenge, the talk provided encouragement, as many of the concepts already being developed relate directly to the Visit Cambridge mission. For instance, one challenger intends to harness Big Data to enhance residents’ and visitors’ experiences in Cambridge, and another plans to add substantial value to teenagers’ experiences of the region’s museums.

At the end of the same week, eight SME participants involved in REACTOR – either through the Big Games Challenge or in receipt of a REACTOR grant – attended the first Concept Development Workshop at Madingley Hall. The workshop provided a chance for participants to access advice direct from games producers and developers, which will enable them to improve their concepts, pitch more successfully, and launch more effectively.

Technology Mentor, Antony Quinn (Polyzontal), gave the keynote address: the lean method and scoping out a project. Gill Hart from the National Gallery also spoke, about the gallery’s digital engagement projects. REACTOR mentors Antony (Quinn), Brandon Wu (Studio Pepwuper) and Daniel Dearing (Actualise Consulting) held introductory workshops throughout the day, which provided participants with information about applying for REACTOR grants, opportunities to use Anglia Ruskin University’s game development facilities, and details of how to access industry expertise and guidance during this development stage of the project.

As the summer begins, so does the most exciting part of the REACTOR initiative, as participants work to produce a viable product to present for the first time, both at Venturefest East on Thursday 21 September, and at the REACTOR Showcase event on Thursday 28 September.

Watch this space for updates and glimpses into the products in development as the challengers get stuck into their builds over the summer.