Bringing 3D To Majid’s Printed Pages!
If you grew up in the Middle East, whatever your age, you probably know Majid magazine, the most circulated Arab children magazine. Kaslan Jidan, Amouna Al Mazyouna, Mickey the Monkey, Moza and Rashoud were likely your childhood friends on paper. Well, Majid is still thriving and attracting new readers – and bringing back the old ones - in creative ways, including the use of augmented reality.
Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are augmented by virtual computer-generated imagery. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality.
Majid’s experience with augmented reality is a combination of the physical magazine copy and an online gaming experience. And the idea is simple. Children hold a code imprinted on a “magical page” in the print magazine up to a web camera to launch a racing game on the computer screen, using the magazine as a steering wheel. Watch the video below to see “The Magical Race of Miroo” demonstrated.
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpRqrZHeJPI) – embed it.
“We realized that just putting up a website for kids isn’t the most engaging tool to use,” said Ricky Ghai, Executive Director of Digital Media for Abu Dhabi Media Company, the organization that published Majid magazine. “More important is the relationship between the child and the magazine, which has a huge legacy and an emotional relevance that just a website wouldn’t capture. When we came up with our augmented reality initiative, the idea was to come up with something that doesn’t just engage children to use the website, but to rather become immersed in that online world of Majid – to extend the offline print relationship between the child and the magazine online – but in a new level.”
The concept of bringing augmented reality through racing game was an obvious choice because it’s familiar to kids, yet still exciting, according to Victoria Mirauer, Director of Marketing Digital Media for Abu Dhabi Media Company. But the challenge was how to keep the whole process seamless, preserving the print experience, while weaving it into an interactive web experience. “The physical code in the magazine would initiate the game on the PC, but the physical magazine would remain integral to the magazine – acting like a steering wheel where the child continues to hold the physical copy in his hand to keep the game going.”
The Majid team knew it had to balance technology sophistication with the accessibility of the game and ensure it was easy to understand and compelling for its target market. The fact that the game was webcam-based contributed greatly. “Children were really excited about seeing themselves in the picture (on screen), while holding their magazine copies in their hands. They felt in control. They were driving the cars, and seeing themselves in the game,” said Mirauer.
Ghai said that the Majid team knew its very simple game by no means would take the kids from their PlayStation, but the main idea was focused on creating a connection between a print product they read and an online experience they expect. “It’s not about one channel or the other – we tried to blur the gaps between the two and bring them both closer together.”
The game won the Dubai Interactive Lynx Award in the “Interactive Tools & Applications” Category and Mirauer believes the award proves that there is much innovation coming from the Arab region. “What we have [in the Middle East] region, that the rest of the world may not have, is the variety of cultural demands. Creating a composite product that [caters to] a whole spectrum of religion, nostalgia, language and education becomes a massive challenge.”