Designed to teach children about environmentally-friendly choices in food shopping and recycling, Eco Challenge is a new immersive game at the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana, California.
Produced by Cinnabar with media content by Mindi Lipschultz, it features three zones – Discovery Market, Race to Recycle and Eco Garage – with six life-size animated characters that guide players throughout the experience.
Discovery Market is central to the attraction, a life-size recreation of a grocery store, complete with touch screen-enhanced shopping carts and interactive scanners. It is where most of the animated characters are found. At the entrance, ’Sandra’ prompts visitors to grab a shopping cart, as seen in the video below.
Shoppers choose a shopping list from the in-built monitor and move around the store, where they respond to questions on the screens, select products and scan barcodes from the shelves to submit their answers. According to the answers given, special treats and effects are triggered throughout the game including photographs of star players on the Super Shopper Wall (a bank of monitors) and, if all questions are answered correctly, a custom coin embossed featuring one of the characters from the game. Kids are encouraged to play numerous timesto collect them all.
Much time and attention was spent on the characters by Lipschultz: “I wanted to create characters that kids could identify with and remember,” she explains. “We made them quirky and memorable. Courtney, for example [pictured top right], awakens from her Zen-like meditation of floating fruit when visitors summon her by pushing the ‘Help’ button, while Susie, a forceful young clerk with purple-streaked hair emphasises her points with a meat cleaver in hand and rails against Styrofoam packaging.”
Eco Challenge was realised by the Discovery Center with assistance from OC Waste and Recycling. As well as Cinnabar and Lipschultz, suppliers included BBI Engineering (A/V systems/mechanical interfaces), Wall Street Productions (software) and Artifact Design (character animation).
“The exhibit teaches kids about eco-choices, and they go home and teach their parents,” concludes Lipschultz. “I like that – it builds a better future and a better now.“