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October 24, 2013

Dragons Adventure – the future of gaming?

Jim Mainard, from DreamWorks Animation, has a vision of the future. Right now, it involves dragons, maps, kids and their parents. Tomorrow it’s going to turn your backyard into Shrek’s swamp. Jim wants the world around us to be more interactive and entertaining. Here’s how…


Next month sees the first chapter in an evolving story with the availability of Dragons Adventure, exclusively on the Nokia Lumia 2520. Based on the hugely successful How to Train Your Dragon franchise, Dragons Adventure is an augmented reality game for kids with the opportunity for adults to get involved too.

The game takes the best of the HERE mapping platform, DreamWorks’ animation skills and the minds and imaginations of grownups who’ve never actually grown up. Designed for tablet, Dragons Adventure also has a Lumia companion app enabling parents to get involved. Plot a route on your Lumia, tap’n’send it to your kid’s tablet and hey presto, that route gets “vikingised” into a Dragon-like playground where the world around you comes to life in a way you’d never expect.

Originally inspired by Nokia’s City Lens app, which overlays metadata on the real world, the goal of Jim (Head of Digital Strategy at DreamWorks Animation), and his team is simply “how do you get the child to not just focus on the device, but notice the world around them, and how it is affecting their game.”


With a real world foundation (thanks to HERE maps) the game comes to life when your kid’s daily commute, or their big road trip, isn’t just another series of twists and turns but a reflection of reality painted gloss by the addition of a DreamWorks envisioned Norse overlay. Thanks to Nokia’s real time rendering technology, any map (and route) in the world can be transformed into Hiccup’s  universe, the Isle of Berk (Hiccup, if you haven’t seen the movie or cartoon series, is the lead character in How to Train Your Dragon).

But it isn’t just the map that changes. Additional metadata such as traffic and weather is also transformed. Raining outside? No problem, it’ll be raining in the game, too. Heavy traffic? Waddya know, the games’ roads suddenly become rocky, sodden and slow. Oh, and keep an eye on that restaurant you’re passing – you  might see dragons flying about, thanks to the apps on the fly transformation.

Jim’s original vision was simple: create an experience that brings the franchise to life and rises way above the traditional one-dimensional app environment. Innovation was the door and HERE maps provided Jim with the key to unlock it. Pulling together the teams from DreamWorks Animation and Nokia enabled Mainard and his team to turn that vision into reality – in just seven months.

Getting the family involved was another key mission for Mainard. Thanks to a Lumia companion app, mums, dads, grandmas and grandpas (or anyone with a pre-paired phone) can get involved, sending dragons to unsuspecting offspring or offering up additional gold to pick up on route- and with voice commands, too.


Dragons Adventure isn’t just another game for mobile or tablet. It’s the transformation of the world around us and this game is just the beginning. Jim shared more than we can when it comes to what the future might hold, but oh boy is it exciting. Think what might happen if you bring education, science or even engineering to this platform. Think beyond kids and make something that appeals to adults, too.

Hiccup is best known for being one who goes against the grain. He’s not one for climbing the same ladder his predecessors have. Instead he asks questions. He does the unthinkable, to Vikings, in training dragons.

Not unlike Mainard who approached this environment with the same questioning attitude, the same inquisitive nature and ultimately, the same drive and determination to prove that his way was the right way. Hiccup is best described as an explorer. Mainard an innovator. We think they augment each other nicely.