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Playing more outdoors, in the woods but also in the city. Telling stories about nature but also about industrial heritage. In a way that makes you want to go hiking, or better: play outside. Because, regardless of your age, there has to be played more outside, according to Natasja Paulssen creative director at Dutch Rose Media. Together with Paper Poly, VVV Valkenswaard and EHV247 they developed software with which they can make augmented scavenger hunts. As of this week, the Curse of the Fire can be ‘played’, a tour of Eindhoven’s industrial heritage. 

What started with the idea of making a few treasure hunts ended in ‘something much more’, Paulssen tells us. “We tell a story.” These stories must appeal to the target group. These are mainly children of eight and nine years old, but because of the layered nature of the story, a child of six can also like the pictures in the phone. And parents learn more about their own city. 

It started with a walk through the Groote Heide. A search for gnomes. “The gnomes were taken out of the forest. We wanted to have them back. A graduate developed a prototype; a kind of treasure hunt for the gnomes. VVV Valkenswaard was enthusiastic about it and they wanted to work on it. EHV247 wanted that too. We were made aware of the possibilities of the stimulation fund from the Metropoolregio. At first, we thought of two or three treasure hunts, but with the help of this fund, we got the opportunity to tackle this much more broadly. We were able to develop a tool that would allow you to make searches all over the world.”

“They are Pokémon Go like treasure hunts. With the difference that we determine where the gnomes or other objects are and not the software. We want to make the story, your experience, ourselves. Since this week there is a treasure hunt through the center of Eindhoven. Along unknown places, so you can get to know the city better. City guide Irene Fuchs gave the input. A lot of input, there is so much to tell, Fuchs says. “Yes, it was really ‘kill your darlings’.” Paulssen: “Ultimately, it has to become a coherent story. And also an exciting story that appeals to the target group.”

For that excitement, locations were picked where you normally don’t come. Like the top of the Catharina Church and the shelter under the market. Fuchs was involved in taking 360° photos of those places. “It was a lot of fun to get to places where nobody normally comes.” These photos have been incorporated into the story. The story is also told by a spirit: Edan. You have to free it and a mystery has been invented around it. The tour will lead you past six places where you will have to find objects. 

We want to make people enthusiastic about their city

We start the launch of the hunt for The Curse of the Fire from the Brandstore, at Eindhoven Central Station. It was important to offer the app for free, says Eric Boselie, director EHV247, during the launch. “We want to make people enthusiastic about their city.” 

A digital compass points you in the right direction. If you walk in the right way you will hear a ping. During the launch, things don’t run smoothly. “It works with a GPS signal and if that doesn’t come through completely, it will be delayed. Things will go much better in fine weather”, Fleur Stiels, who has supervised the launch from Dutch Rose Media, explains. We walk that first hunt with cloudy weather. And we walk with a group. “So many different Android devices and iPhone’s is also not conducive. It’s more of an individual journey,” Paulssen adds.

“Finally, I want to work with 3D film as well. If you see the ghost now, it is flat, you can’t touch it. We plan to bring such a studio to Eindhoven. There are only five in the world. We already have a place, at the Effenaar in the Grote Zaal. This summer, they are finalizing the financing, it should be able to start in the last quarter of this year. We had the first 2D studio in the Netherlands, with Philips. A 3D studio has to be here too. Then you can take the next step in terms of experience.”

That is the future, for now, it is important to know what the 9-year-old Steef Hermans thinks of the hunt. He liked it and it was exciting. What did he like the most? “Everything.” If he would recommend it to his friends? “Yes.” To which his mother adds: “Those girls who were sitting here just now asked us what we were doing, they saw all those people walking with their telephones.”

The tours can be downloaded with the app ‘Hidden Tracks: Eindhoven City’

From July 9th the Curse of the Fire can be walked, the starting point is Brandstore Eindhoven, Stationsplein 17 

Photo’s Dutch Rose Media