Developing A Digital City Rally: How we bring fairy tales and legends to life in 15 cities

Insights Into The Development Process Of The Unique City Game Concept With Serious Games Designer Marius Meißner

We at espoto love storytelling! Why? Quite simply because people love stories. And for deeply rooted evolutionary, emotional and social reasons. They inform, entertain, connect and inspire, making them an indispensable part of human life. Evolutionarily, stories have served as a means of knowledge transfer and even survival. They touch us emotionally and help us to anchor information better.

Stories promote identification and empathy by making it possible to see the world from different perspectives. Culturally, stories serve to preserve and pass on values and traditions and strengthen a sense of community. They provide structure, meaning and organize complex information. To this day, stories create connections between people, promote social ties and a sense of belonging. And stories are fun. In the following interview with our serious game designer Marius Meißner, you can find out how we harnessed these qualities to develop a digital game concept about 15 cities.

The Creation Of The Largest Espoto Game Design Project In The Field Of Tourism To Date

Over the past two years, our espoto team has worked with 25 people from 15 cities to create a major game design project that will be launched this year 2024. Grimm’s fairy tales and other location-specific legends and stories are playfully integrated into various city rallies. The challenge: an intense arc of suspense and a cross-city story. In this interview, our project manager Marius offers insights into the creative process. Marius is a game designer and also an adventure educator.

The Interview About The Development Process Of The Unique Game Concept With Espoto Serious Games Designer Marius Meißner

Dear Marius, you are about to launch your biggest city games cooperation project. How did this mega project come about?

The roots of this extraordinary project lie in our long-standing collaboration with Grimmheimat Nordhessen. We have been working with the tourism marketing agency for 10 years and have mapped various city tours in our software as part of a white label app. This successful cooperation paved the way for the ambitious city rally concept.

Now 15 cities are involved: Bad Arolsen, Bad Hersfeld, Bad Sooden-Allendorf, Bad Wildungen, Bebra, Frankenberg (Eder), Fritzlar, Hann. Münden, Hessisch Lichtenau, Hofgeismar, Homberg (Efze), Korbach, Melsungen, Rotenburg a.d. Fulda and Witzenhausen. Many of these towns already had their own city tours as scavenger hunts. In 2022, I was invited to a workshop on the further development of our app. After presenting the new features and other game design projects, everyone was enthusiastic and wondered why no storytelling had been integrated into the app so far, even though the Grimmheimat offers so many great stories.

So we started the cross-city project with storytelling and the game-based thinking method, which uses playful elements in development.

What is the story of the city rally for the 15 cities about?

The story combines well-known fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm with other legends and stories from the region to create an exciting and meaningful city rally for all 15 cities. One of the big challenges was to integrate the fairy tales and characters set in different times in a meaningful way without breaking the immersion. We wanted to make sure that playing in one city as well as in several cities would maintain the motivation to play. Finally, we developed a storyline in which a stolen manuscript by the Brothers Grimm plays the central role.
aufgabenliste schnitzeljagd app für stadtrallye nordhessen
aufgabenansicht schnitzeljagd app fuer stadtrallye nordhessen
raetselansicht schnitzeljagd app fuer stadtrallye nordhessen
raetselansicht schnitzeljagd app fuer stadtrallye nordhessen

Insight Into The Game

The players visit the surrounding towns in the region to explore the famous places where the Brothers Grimm collected their stories. In the local tourist information centers of the towns, they discover an interesting notice from an elderly librarian named Friedrich. In the notice, Friedrich explains that a valuable and unknown manuscript by the Brothers Grimm has been stolen and destroyed. He is looking for brave and fairy tale enthusiastic volunteers who are willing to embark on an adventurous journey to find the parts of the manuscript and restore it.

Friedrich is unable to take part in the search himself as he suffers from a serious illness and is physically unable to make the journey through the various cities. However, he firmly believes that there are people who understand the importance and value of the Grimm brothers’ stories and are willing to protect their power. On the invitation, the players find a QR code that they scan with their smartphones. When they scan the code, a video of Friedrich and his niece Lena opens. Friedrich explains the situation and shows the clues and puzzles he has found in a book cover. These were marked with a threat to destroy all fairy tale books and bore the signature of a certain Mr. Schwarz. Lena then developed a special app in which she digitized the clues and riddles discovered by Friedrich.

Motivated and united by their shared passion for fairy tales, the players decide to join forces and embark on an adventurous journey together to recover the stolen Brothers Grimm manuscript and save the world of fairy tales. With the help of the app and the puzzles left behind by the thief, they travel from town to town to find the lost parts of the manuscript.

How do you create a city rally for several cities and with so many decision-makers? Can you take us into the development process?

To kick off the collaboration, we organized a game design workshop with representatives from all the cities to develop goals, target groups and framework conditions. During the two days, our most important goal was to find commonalities that connect the cities and to create a game that is so much fun that you want to continue playing in the other cities after playing in one city.

After defining the game mechanics, those responsible decided on a story-driven city escape game. The next step and workshop involved designing game locations, characters and plots. We integrated fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm, but also had to incorporate new legends and stories from the cities. And we also needed a central character to guide us through the story.

The librarian Friedrich, who wants to recover a stolen manuscript by the Brothers Grimm, was developed as a central character. The players learn about the danger and are motivated to search for clues in the cities using an app.

What happened next? How did you master the challenge of creating specific tasks for the individual cities?

Once the cross-city storytelling had been established, we developed the specific city stories and puzzles. As we couldn’t logistically travel to each city individually, our colleagues from the tourist information offices were involved in the further game design process. They had the task of finding and photographing location-specific features that could be turned into puzzles.

We then turned these into different puzzles. The individual city stories are now nearing completion. They will be available in the game later this year. A total of around 150 individual puzzles have been developed. This means that the largest city game in the history of espoto has been created to date.

Would You Like To Develop Your Own Game Concept Or Serious Game?

Stories are fun and have a strong appeal. The development of this digital city rally shows how well thought-out game design and intensive storytelling can lead to an unforgettable gaming experience. If you would like to implement similar projects, you will not only find the necessary support and expertise with us. We offer also inspiring workshops that support and enrich your individual creative process.

Do you have some initial ideas? Then attend our workshops and training courses and let’s work together to make processes playful and successful. We look forward to meeting you.

Your espoto team

Further News

Request Test Account!

Send us your request now and we will be happy to send you a test account to get you started!

Testaccount anfordern!

Senden Sie uns jetzt Ihr Anliegen und wir senden Ihnen sehr gern einen Testaccount zum Durchstarten!