If God never sleeps, Universal Creative might be in a similar league. Seriously though…just when you think things may settle for Universal Parks, a new patent for video game-based attractions surfaces.
According to BizJournals.com, a patent has been put forth by Universal City Studios LLC which suggests some interesting possibilities in the future. The name of the patent is simple enough, Video Game Ride, and–as the name suggests–it attempts to merge theme park rides with video games. That wouldn’t necessarily be a big deal. I mean, ‘Men in Black’ has interactive features that clearly imitate a video game scenario. This patent, though, raises the bar in a couple ways, starting with the ride’s narrative.
I may be dating myself here, but Choose Your Own Adventure books were the bomb when I was a kid. That concept has been translated to any number of video games on the market today. Now it looks as if the same idea may be coming to theme park attractions–rides specifically.
The patent put out states that players could change the course of their experience during the ride. The changes would be based on decisions they make via controllers–controllers like steering wheels, joysticks, or WANDS. You read that correctly. The patent uses the word “wands.”
A number of hypothetical situations are mentioned in the patent as well such as “puzzle rooms” which allow for different paths to unfold according to the physical affects of the players in the room. Most notably, a “wizard-themed game” is mentioned that has riders using various wands to create specific environments. What does that mean? Well, I’ll just throw the phrase “freezing spell” out there since the patent does.
Scoring and playing environments are obviously primary elements in any video game, and it seems that Universal’s patent takes this into account with varied ideas for scoring points and progressing through scenes. However, the real gem here is one that will warm the hearts of theme park moms the world over. This particular technology seems to be able to adapt to the demographic of its players as clearly expressed by the document:
“The interactive game ride may also provide the benefit of a dynamic narrative that changes in response to interest from the game players. For example, if a family with small children is participating in the ride, the game may receive input on the player ages to select appropriate game environments.”
If this patent pans out, parents may not need to worry about situations that are too intense or beyond the skill levels of their little ones. As a mom, myself, I can tell you from experience that this is gold. It’s a bit heartbreaking to tell a child that they can’t be included due to something not being “age appropriate.” Likewise, it isn’t fun walking off a ride with a child in tears because of an inferior score or terrifying experience. Needless to say, I tip my hat to the individual who put this little bit in the patent.
All of this is great, and I will continue to be excited about what this might mean for Universal. However, the key word is “might.” A patent doesn’t always materialize into reality. It is just the indication of possibility, and this particular one happens to present some rather cool possibilities. But whatever! Universal, you had me at wands.
Fox 35 News invited ITM to their studios to discuss the new patent and what it might mean for Universal’s parks. Check it out!