Aotea Square’s history brought to life in new game app

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Publish Date : 02 Oct 2020
Aotea Square’s history brought back to life in new game app
Aotea Stories is available on both apple and android devices and can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play.
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Ian Lopez does a 3D scan of Brad Thompson who plays the role of time traveller Dr Magnus.
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Brad Thompson (Dr Magnus) as he appears in the game.

A new app is encouraging Aucklanders to travel back in time to discover a part of Aotea Square’s history.

Created by Geo AR Games, Aotea Stories is an augmented reality experience launched as part of Auckland Council’s Heritage Festival.

“Auckland Heritage Festival is a timely and wonderful look back in time. It enables us to thank some of the people who helped shape the unique character of our city and allow us a moment for reflection after a challenging year,” Councillor and Chair of the Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committee Alf Filipaina says.

App developer and Geo AR Games CEO Melanie Langlotz says Aotea Stories is an innovative concept that combines the great outdoors with mobile gaming.

She said the prototype was aimed at connecting people, especially younger Aucklanders, to the past and described the game like “a cross between Assassin’s Creed and Pokemon Go”.

“We wanted to create an interactive game that allows cities like Auckland to show off their historical architecture and tell its history at the same time,” Melanie said.

She explained the technology behind the game is ARKit or ARCore – so only devices with advanced Augmented Reality capability could download and play it.

After downloading the game, players are asked to make their way to the Waharoa Gate in Aotea Square.

After being greeted by Dr Magnus Venture, they are then instructed to use the powers of postcognition to look into the past and witness the area as it once was.

“He goes on to tell players how the course of history is being threatened by anomalies that have begun to appear, for unknown reasons, and then they are asked to help fix as many of these anomalies as possible through what-if scenarios,” Melanie said.

Set in 1901, the focal point of the temporal anomaly is the site of the former Auckland City Market and features four heritage buildings (The Market, Bathhouse, Hotel and The Cobbler), which have long been lost to development.

“In some ways the alternate reality presented by the anomalies should be somewhat appealing, making the players wonder what could have been if these buildings hadn’t been demolished,” she said.

Melanie explained the four buildings had been recreated based on old photos and drawings sourced from the Auckland Archives.

“The original position of the buildings of The Cobbler and the old hotel had to be adjusted to keep the players safe and allow for other activities happening at Aotea Square.”

The script for the game was written by New Zealand’s Tanya Wheeler and featured real-life actors – who were added to the game after being scanned in 3D.

“With a budget constraint a lot of people have given their time and expertise for free,” Melanie said.

The app was produced from a $20,000 grant from the New Zealand Film Commission with the City Centre Targeted Rate contributing $1700.

Geo AR Games has also produced other games like What’s the Plan Stan and Magical Parks. For further information visit

The Auckland Heritage Festival runs from 26 September to 11 October 2020. To see the full festival programme visit

Aotea Stories is available on both apple and android devices and can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

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