Just when you think Universal has plateaued creatively, they go and patent a brand new style of ride that they dub Video Game Ride. The patent, which was discovered by the Orlando Business Journal, aims at creating a vehicle “configured to receive respective inputs from one or more riders via the vehicle interface circuitry, and wherein the respective inputs are related to one or more game features of a game environment; and a game controller configured to receive information from the vehicle interface circuitry related to the respective inputs; and provide instructions to modify the game environment based on at least one of the respective inputs.”
Let’s break down what this actually means and how it may be applied at Universal Parks. First, video game style rides are no stranger to Orlando theme parks. Walt Disney World has Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and Toy Story Midway Mania, and Universal Orlando has MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack. However, the patent says that riders will be able to alter the course of the experience via “controllers guests may use that could come in the shape of joysticks, steering wheels, custom weapons or, most notably, wands.”
That leads us to the next point – wands. Orland Business Journal saw right through this and expected that the inclusion of wands means the next generation of Harry Potter attractions that takes innovative technology to the next level, and they were probably right on the nose with this guess. This would come as no surprise considering that Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts both broke new ground with their attraction technology. Also, it didn’t take much extra detective work considering the patent included an example of how the technology could work with a “wizard-themed game.”
One of the more interesting aspects of the patent is definitely the section that describes how the experience could be altered. “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. Alternatively or additionally, the player interactions with the game may also influence the game to provide feedback.”
If the technology worked well, this new style of ride could be way more than just using the controller to affect a physical prop in the environment. What if this technology was incorporated into Universal’s beloved screens and the scenes you are put in front of can change based on how the attraction is going. Yes, something could also be accomplished with physical sets, but this has Universal screens written all over it.
Finally, Orlando Business Journal brought Nintendo into the mix and this will most likely be a huge priority. Nintendo has been dwindling in popularity. The characters remain iconic, but their systems and games aren’t selling like they did 20 years ago. Interactive attractions make just as much sense with Harry Potter as they do with Nintendo, but with Nintendo their is the potential to reinvigorate that love of Nintendo gaming to a new generation that has opted for Playstation and Xbox.
Of course, nothing may ever come from this and it may be nothing more than just an update to systems they already have set in place with MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack, but the potential for interactive attractions is astounding. Really, Universal Creative can only be stifled by their own creativity considering how far they are pushing the boundaries on groundbreaking technology.
(h/t – Orlando Business Journal)