Virtual reality world-first allows users to explore Wellington City from a headset

Making your city stand out to tourists is getting more and more challenging - but one Wellington tech company reckons they've got the edge.

WellTown lets people strap on a headset and see the city brought to life as an interactive game, in a world-first for virtual reality.

Designed by virtual and augmented reality agency Wrestler, WellTown aims to be the closest thing to Wellington without actually being there.

"Whether you're a new VR trier or someone who's tried it a lot before, you'll have lots of fun no matter what experience you have," says Wrestler co-founder Kat Lintott.

WellTown takes users through six different Wellington experiences, such as busking on Cuba Street, exploring the harbour, or shooting coffee at hordes of zombie-fied commuters, all with an eccentric guide in tow.

"It's a bit weird. It's quite unusual, it's definitely creative. Wellington is an alternative city and this is an alternative game that really embraces that," says Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency general manager Anna Calver.

WellTown is a world-first: while other cities can be explored in virtual reality, no other city has been turned into a VR game.

"I am such a VR nerd and I'm so stoked I can be a part of it!" says Lintott.

It's not just fun and games - it's been developed with the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency, to help the capital compete with bigger cities around the globe to attract workers and tourists.

"We've got to do things differently to stand out, and I think we're lucky in the fact we're a creative tech place. So we thought why not use those and put our money where our mouth is?" says Calver.

And it's set to be taken on the road to tourism expo's.

"If you've been handed a brochure versus handed a headset, what one would you remember more?" asks Lintott.

"It's not just pointing a video at a scene, showing a couple enjoying somewhere like a normal campaign is, but it's being able to really bring what Wellington has to offer to life," says Calver.

VR users at home can get it for free, and the code is open source, meaning anyone can add their own Wellington attractions to the game.

"We've built the platform, it's not going to cost much more to add it on, and it be this ever-growing gamified version of Wellington, which is really unique," says Lintott.

Meaning all you need to do to feel like a Wellingtonian is strap on a headset.


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