Knox Mountain has been gamified.
One of the top attractions in Kelowna for both tourists and locals, Knox Mountain has joined the high-tech world with two interactive games now available for use on the Apex Trail, the main trail that leads to the two lookouts on Knox Mountain.
The City of Kelowna launched the two games on Thursday: Knox Your Socks Off allows users to take an interactive tour up Knox, getting information on their smartphone about plants and animals and the history of the mountain as they walk along the trail. The Knox Mountain Challenge is a timed quest where users are timed from top to bottom and the time is catalogued and can be compared with other users in their same age category.
Both challenges use a free app called QuestUpon and rely upon users having a smartphone with GPS technology.
“It’s gamifying our trails,” said Mariko Siggers, Kelowna’s Active by Nature event development supervisor. “We built some features into (the program) so you don’t have to stare at your phone the whole time. You can walk and it will ding or buzz when you get to your mark so you can put it into your pocket or you can hold it because we don’t want to lose people into their cell phones. It also encourages you to look out at the view, to stop and check it out because it’s epic up here. It’s amazing.”
The timing of the announcement is ironically at a time when a virtual game called Pokemon Go has been in the news for all the wrong reasons as users of that game have been disrupting service in certain city’s or getting lost or worse, as they cluelessly follow their phone and play the game.
While Pokemon Go has created a stir and a negative reaction in some circles, the Knox mountain games are designed to keep people on the trails and introduce them to the unique nature of the mountain, allowing people to use their phones and supplement the natural beauty of the hike with information.
“The popularity of Pokemon Go has certainly helped the public’s understanding of how technology can be used for the gamification of physical activity,” said Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran. “Unlike Pokemon, our quest will keep you on the Apex Trail so you won’t be led into the bushes or find yourself in someone’s backyard. By staying on the designated trail you are keeping yourself safe and helping to protect the beauty of the park.”
The two virtual games are an off-shoot of the city’s Active by Nature department and an addition to what the city has already provided people who are looking to stay active. Located on kelowna.ca, the Active by Nature group has posted maps of routes for hiking, running, biking, paddling and swimming. There is also way-finding signage around the city, helping people navigate the trails.
Active by Nature was launched last year and Siggers says they are always looking to add new information to the web site.
“It’s just different ways of getting out and getting active and challenging yourself to try something new and break down barriers,” said Siggers of the online routes. “The Active by Nature program is all integrated with our other services so you can look at the bus schedule or the parking lots that are available and it’s a mobile-friendly site.”
To find the Knox Mountain games, find the free app QuestUpon in the app store and log-in before choosing one of the two Knox Mountain games.
For the next two weeks, users of the games will be entered into a contest to win a FitBit watch when they log on.