App crowns Timaru royalty

MEGAN MILLER
Last updated 11:31 03/12/2012
gareth bedford
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/ Fairfax NZ
KINGMAKER: Gareth Bedford of Thirdman Design has created an online game for the Tell a Friend contest organised by Aoraki Development Business and Tourism.

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South Canterbury now has its own royal couple - and you can be one of them.

The new monarchy is not the result of a quiet weekend political revolution. Instead, in Timaru, the smartphone user is king.

Website and graphic designer Gareth Bedford created the game You Rule Timaru as his contribution to the Tell a Friend competition, organised by Aoraki Development Business and Tourism.

The idea is something he's wanted to try out for a while, Mr Bedford said.

''I'm interested in this kind of interaction between the physical world and the digital world,'' he said. ''With something purely digital, you're basically on your own, but this game requires people to go out and have that real-world interaction that you don't get online.''

Players join the game by signing in at http://yourule.co.nz using an existing Foursquare account.

Foursquare allows users to ''check in'' at their location - a cafe, a business, a bar, or any other imaginable venue.

For his game, Mr Bedford chose several Timaru locations: cultural hotspots like Te Ana Maori Rock Art Centre and Aigantighe Art Gallery; areas of natural beauty including Patiti Point and Dashing Rocks; and several of Timaru's cafes, bars and restaurants, from Burger King to Zest.

Players earn points based on factors like the number of those places they've checked in and the frequency of their check-ins.

By accumulating points, they can become the ''mayor'' of a location. The male and female players with the most points become king and queen.

As the game progresses, Mr Bedford said he'll swap out locations to give players the opportunity to earn more points - and encourage them to explore more of South Canterbury.

He also hopes businesses and organisations will opt to become part of the game by registering their locations as check-in points.

It could even create a marketing opportunity for businesses, Mr Bedford said. For example, a restaurant could capitalise on the game by offering free food to the person who becomes ''mayor'' of the location.

''I wanted to give people a reason to go out and experience these places, and to share their experiences,'' he said.

To get in the game, go to You Rule Timaru

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- The Timaru Herald

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