As the design of Call of Tāne, I see is not just an application, but fundamentally an experience we are fabricating and delivering to the Wellingtonians.
How to make this experience more engaging was a constant question that I kept in mind to push the project to where it is.
From the very beginning of the project we had this clear goal of encouraging people get into the wild and interact with nature. We wanted people to be physically involved in bush walking, and getting information about Nature along the way, so that we can maximise the impact on conservation with our application/this experience.
Firstly, we thought of making the experience as a treasure hunting in the bush, with the virtual reality elements. This was to provide an incentive for people to go on tracks. Based on that, we pushed this idea a step further: this experience will be a “treasure hunt” for spiritual and cultural treasure. We wanted to make the incentive more intrinsic and this experience more of a beneficial contrast to the busy urban life of our users.
Secondly, as we have decided to make this app an informative one (giving people information about forest, history and conservation), how can we make this knowledge more engaging? Making the app like a comprehensive handbook for field-trips is probably not the best solution, because it doesn’t address the question “why should I care (about all the bush knowledge and facts at all)” for most people.
Therefore, we decided to employing the art form of story telling. It is also related to how in Maori society, knowledge, history and legends were traditionally passed down from one generation to another orally, through stories. As a story teller, I find this form fascinating to explore.
In short, we are making less of an encyclopedia, but more of an audio based interactive story book.
Thirdly, we wanted to engage the audience by bringing nature to life, and let it talk to the audience directly, like in a theatrical performance. Within the New Zealand context, we think it is appropriate to personify the bush as Tāne, the Maori God of Forests and Birds. Thus Tāne was the first-person story teller in this experience, as well as the title of the application.
Finally, inspired by interactive narrative found in a lot of video games, we we decided to make this experience truly interactive. You can only progress in the story by continuously walking, and physically exploring new territories. This way, we want the users to be able to learn about the forest by physically in the presence of natural envorionment. Also as users walk on different tracks and come across different land marks, they will end up unfolding the story differently each in their own way.