Augmented Reality, or AR, as most people call it. In layman’s terms, its the yin to Virtual Reality’s yang. While VR uses computer technology to create a world for people to interact with, AR uses it to augment the world. Take the mobile game Pokemon Go!, for example. It uses AR to generate images of Pokemon in the real world for players to catch.
A new interactive play experience will soon be revealed… Join a fearless team of ghost hunters, who dare to see the unseen. Help turn a haunted world back to normal, one ghost at a time. #LEGOHiddenSide pic.twitter.com/grVHitCQqh
— LEGO (@LEGO_Group) 17 February 2019
What does this even have to do with LEGO? A lot. In recent years, LEGO has begun to get experimental with their products. They tried to break ground in the “toys-to-life” concept in video games with LEGO Dimensions. While the game and the line of sets did well, in October 2017, Warner Bros. pulled the plug on the game and future packs. Although, as events of the last week have shown, LEGO’s not done with coming up with new ways to keep their sets relevant.
LEGO Hidden Side Theme Announced
On Valentine’s Day, 2019, LEGO showcased their newest creation at the New York Toy Fair: LEGO Hidden Side. The whole thing’s built around eight separate sets (confirmed with images below) with all the bells and whistles that we’ve come to expect from LEGO. More than that, though, Hidden Side is about pushing the boundaries separating toys and games. Tom Donaldson, Senior VP of the Creative Play Lab at the LEGO Group, made this statement:
“Our years of experience pioneering the convergence of technology and physical play have taught us that kids expect exciting play experiences that move seamlessly between physical and digital worlds – something we call fluid play.” LEGO Hidden Side will break the mold of AR, creating an environment where reality will influence the game.
Hidden Side Game Experience
In LEGO Hidden Side, kids will play as Jack and Parker, two friends who return to their hometown of Newbury in search of supernatural events. Kids will use their mobile phones to scan the sets and reveal the dark secrets that lie below the surface using Augmented Reality. Interact with part of the set while the phone is up, ghosts will appear, and it will be up to kids to catch them.
Since this is still LEGO, and one of the central concepts of LEGO is taking it apart, that’s reflected in the AR experience. Messing with the set will alter the game experience in several ways. This will encourage people to find new ways to build and interact with the sets. The game influences the physical world, and the physical world changes the game.
The point to this experiment is to encourage kids to return to their LEGO sets in the future. People play with traditional toys fewer thanks to video games and mobile phones. Toy companies like LEGO have done well to adapt, using video games, TV shows, and movies to keep their audience. That alone won’t help them sell the toys themselves, though. LEGO needs to keep up with the innovations in entertainment if they want to stay relevant for future generations. So far, they’ve done an excellent job at that.
If LEGO Hidden Side ends up being a success, it could open up a new window for LEGO down the line. This could be the first in a string of AR sets that LEGO could release. The games will launch in August 2019, with the accompanying app being free on the iPhone and Android. Get ready to step into the realm of the supernatural this summer!