A Mason City man has created an augmented reality scavenger hunt through Mason City and hopes to expand the game experience.
Nathan Pearce, 33, owns Nebulaware, where he develops mobile apps and programs for businesses. He started creating River City Hunt, an augmented reality scavenger hunt game, in January.
“It was really a mashup of my love for technology and my love of adventure,” Pearce said.
His love of adventure began when he was child and his grandmother, Carol, would turn simple car rides into adventures.
“So, when I was little, my grandma would take us in her ‘adventure van’ and we would go on the back roads, and we would go to see little churches and little towns,” he said. “You know, she just had this way of making some of the silliest things fun.”
The 1978 Dodge van was called the “Adventure Van.”
Now, he works in technology and is moving toward technology entertainment with his new game venture.
“For the longest time, I wanted to come up with some sort of scavenger hunt type thing and, being in my industry in technology and stuff, augmented reality was kind of this new untapped market,” he said.
Pearce said he wants to make experiences that families, friends and coworkers can enjoy together with AR.
“We try to make it fun and me having four kids, I know what it's like to find stuff to do,” he said.
The game is offered as “Little Detective - RCH” in the App Store and Google Play. Little Detective is based on the 1934 First National Bank robbery by John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, John Hamilton and Tommy Carroll. Pearce could not use the Dillinger name as there is a living relative.
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In real life, the robbers got away with $50,000. In the game, players are searching for clues to find the robbers’ hideout and recover the money.
“I did a bunch of research and worked with Mason City Public Library,” he said. “It’s just kind of based around that and where we divert from real history is we say that the car broke down in town, and you have to try to find where the gang is.”
The app officially launched April 1.
“River City Hunt will have its own set of adventures, as we're calling them,” he said. “Each adventure is its own series of puzzles and clues.”
There are other scavenger hunt games as well that are not based in history. One is a spy game.
“It's about an agent that has intel about a secret organization in Mason City that is going to cause chaos and he's missing,” he said. “So you can either be the good guys trying to find the agent or the bad guys.”
Pearce is taking feedback from users to improve the game experience.
When the app is downloaded, users are prompted to enter an adventure code. The code is purchased on the website and can be used for an entire group.
“We’re trying to keep it around a $10 price point but if you split it with five friends, it’s super cheap for the experience,” he said.
Since April 1, Pearce said about 100 people have tried out the hunt. He’s hoping to eventually include video and other elements to the game.