The IPhone's Gold-Standard Experience App

Media Morph: The Hidden Park

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Hidden Park
With richer features on mobile devices enabling more-engrossing experiences, it was just a matter of time before our natural inclination toward narrative entertainment came to the platform. Integrating the iPhone's camera, location-based services and accelerometer offers unprecedented participatory opportunities. The notable experience app is The Hidden Park ($6.99 from developer Two Bulls), designed to let the connected family take a fantasyland jaunt through specially chosen parks.

HOW TO PLAY: After purchasing the app from the iTunes Store, players are greeted by a friendly troll guide named Trutton, one of many illustrated characters who live in a magical park (which, based on where you're playing, can be Central Park, Boston Common or another location around the world). Trutton tells players they can help save the park from greedy developers by cataloging its mystical inhabitants, which are essentially an alternate-reality layer coded to appear at points in the real world, such as at a certain tree. Riddles and puzzle challenges add to the fun, and kids can save and share findings.

WHY IT WORKS: Quite simply, because it's a fun story coupled with the element of surprise and wonder -- "without a hint of superfluousness," as Big Spaceship CEO Michael Lebowitz (a fan) put it. The opportunity for marketers is to create something with similar principles -- coupling technology and storytelling. "Simply discovering how the technology works is enjoyable enough," said creator James Kane. "It's a bit like the first time you played 'Pong' -- you had probably seen a graphical user interface before, but seeing it as an interactive game was a really enjoyable experience." He said he plans to roll out a game for "older and more- sophisticated age groups -- and we will begin to introduce more-sophisticated game play for these projects."

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