Team Action Zone: outdoor games relying on GPS
Team Action Zone – TAZ, is a small Finnish start-up based in Tampere. The company was founded in 2010 to offer fun and easy location-based game apps for outdoor activities to customers all over the world, whether friends wishing to invent their own games, school teachers who want to make it fun for their pupils to learn about their surroundings, or companies wishing to organise team-building exercises.
The founder of the company had 15 years of experience in the phone business, having previously worked for Nokia. In setting up a small company of his own, the challenge was to surf the wave of the in-built satnav systems on mobile phones, and to create a previously unoccupied niche in the gaming sector: allowing people with no technical or IT expertise whatsoever to easily create their own games and applications, and mix virtual realities they create on their phones with their physical surroundings.
TAZ developed ActionTrack, a platform that allows people without any special skills to create their own location-based outdoor games online, then download them on their phone or tablets using a free ActionTrack app.
How does it work? Organisers of an outdoor activity use the ActionTrack web tool to select several locations on Google Maps, and upload multimedia material. It can be information about the place, interactive challenges, questions, vouchers redeemable from shops and restaurants on the selected route, or check-points. Team members download this itinerary on their phones or tables, and let themselves be guided in real time, thanks to the GPS system on their phones, by following an arrow on their screen, or pictures of things they must find and recognise along their route, or by using a compass showing on their screens. Once they get to a check-point, players can check in in real time by scanning a QR code indoors or by using GPS outdoors.
An activity may be for example an area info, a guided walk, a treasure hunt, a marketing campaign, a real-time competition or an interactive story.
ActionTrack allowed TAZ to reach many customer segments, from schools, to amusement parks, to corporate event organisers, to municipalities. ActionTrack has been used to create tracks, checkpoints, games and events for participants of all ages. For instance,several schools in Tampere started using ActionTrack to make learning and teaching more fun for pupils. As a result, the company is progressing rapidly thanks to a growing customer base in 20 countries, including on different continents (the USA, Australia).
“The first track we created with TAZ was about the Civil war in Finland in 1918. Many famous events took place in this city and quite near our current school building and we were able to take advantage of that. The teachers of our school spent one Saturday with an ActionTrack adventure and found it really useful. Many teachers already came up with ideas on how to use it in their own subjects, for example in Finnish, biology and maths” Ilpo Rantanen, history teacher, Juhannuskylä school, Tampere