Augmented Reality Steps Up to the Plate

by Ashley Stapleton, Game Writer

Traditional sports complain that fewer fans are coming to their kind of games. Their solution? Our kind of games, and Fanboard is a new company making a name for itself as it makes games for games!

Not only that, but Fanboard is one of the leading Georgia creators of augmented-reality titles, and it is offering GGDA members an inside look at what goes into making AR memorable. As the host of this month’s April 10 GGDA meeting, Fanboard CEO and cofounder Morgan Drake has expressed his enthusiasm for introducing his operation and seeing how Fanboard can extend its outreach to the gaming community.

According to Drake, one of the platform’s main pillars is its “gamification aspect, where the fans have a one-on-one engagement with the intent to win something.” To capitalize on this aspect, he looks to gamers and game developers for their insight on what keeps a game engaging. Tuesday’s meeting will mark Fanboard’s first gaming-related event, so it will be an exciting opportunity for all parties involved to exchange ideas. “It gives me the opportunity to say, ‘How can I help you?’” says Drake. He also looks forward to hiring more game designers and developers in the coming months.

Drake stresses that Fanboard delivers a unique, one-on-one experience to sports fans by offering a whole new way to get in the game—ball game, that is. To anyone who’s ever attended a baseball game, whether as a die-hard devotee or a traveling tourist, few are strangers to the long periods of downtime that can stretch well past the outfield. Instead of whiling away this time aimlessly wandering the stadium or chowing down on concessions, Fanboard seeks to engage participants using its augmented-reality app. This app offers a variety of games targeted toward creating an immersive environment for audience members who want more to do during the game.

For example, one game challenges players to search the stadium for the team’s mascot in a manner reminiscent of Pokémon Go. Each encounter is designed to be unique via different animations or interactions. These moments are then automatically uploaded into the player’s “gameday story,” which the player can then share in exchange for various rewards. Rewards can translate to achievements or points that go toward receiving special promotions or offers from the venue.

Other games include an exploration game where players must arrive at a certain location in the stadium—say, Domino’s Pizza—within a set amount of time; a skill-based game where the difficulty increases depending on the number of players currently filling the bases; and (to be introduced later in the season) a Fruit Ninjatype game where players slice through pizza toppings or other items as they fall from the sky after key moments in the game.

In each scenario, fans are encouraged to capture, customize, and share their content in exchange for rewards, not to mention a fun memory at the end of the day. Sponsors can then review the content through social media outlets to collect feedback on how the fans are engaging with their product. “Our goal is to make advertising better,” says Drake. “For [the fans], they get to have a fun, new engagement, something that they want to do. And then, on the receiving end, [the sponsor] is going out in a new, fun way. It’s not an annoying pre-roll ad that gets in the way of a video you’re trying to watch.” The idea is to encourage a mutually beneficial relationship between brand, sponsor, and fan.

In addition to its involvement with the Georgia Game Developers Association, Fanboard has been active within its community. It quickly gained traction after winning the City of Peachtree Corners Vision Award, which opened door after door for the new venture: they met Partnership Gwinnett, gained access to the Prototype Prime Startup Incubator, and found themselves face to face with the general manager of the Gwinnett Stripers, formerly known as the Gwinnett Braves. Before long, Fanboard had full access to The Farm at SunTrust Park, where they could freely interact with visitors to receive feedback and improve their design. “It’s a great place to promote [and] bring people to that space,” says Drake. “It’s great for hiring, great for investing, bringing investors, and so I really am putting a lot of time working in the Cobb County area.”

Drake also continues to support the downtown tech community, maintaining an active presence in Atlanta Tech Village and other startup incubators, such as Switchyards Downtown Club. These organizations have been key in providing startups like Fanboard the resources they need to create a meaningful local footprint. “We don’t exist without the city component,” he affirms. Fanboard is dedicated to “engaging all fans with a better digital experience.” The last year has seen the company make waves in the digital event-marketing and sports-innovation sectors. Most recently it has been recognized as a Stadia Ventures Top Ten Finalist and one of Hype’s Top 10 Most Innovative. The GGDA looks forward to welcoming the team’s experience and achievement. For more information about Fanboad, visit http://fanboard.co/. More information about the April 10 meeting can be found at https://ggda.org/blog/april-10-meeting-at-fanboard-on-creating-memorable-ar-games/.

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