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Would you take a digital pet for a walk?
The inventor of Kahoot has developed a game concept that requires you to move.
BitPet is a company with its roots in the gaming environment at NTNU. They are now launching a game where you have to take care of virtual animals. These animals only thrive if you take them outside and are social.
Indeed, the game is reminiscent of Pokémon Go, a game that Alf Inge Wang has studied carefully.
“Pokémon Go has a positive effect on players’ physical, mental and social health, but the effect only lasts as long as you keep the game going. I wanted to find a game concept that provides similar positive health effects over a longer period of time,” says Wang, a professor in NTNU’s Department of Computer Science.
So while your Pokémon can thrive in your app for years without you doing anything for them, BitPet requires you to actually move and actively care for your animals.
This feature is the main difference between the two games – and is what can make a big difference for you.
The aim is physical activity
“For example, you can find and feed the animals, pet and groom them regularly, ensure that the animals’ home area is well-kept and do activities with them,” Wang says.
The activities may require you to move to a specific area. Maybe you want to go on a treasure hunt, or look for useful objects. Or you can meet someone else who has the game and let your animals play together or challenge each other.
They do this in augmented reality (AR), where you can see the animals moving around in the real world using the camera on your mobile phone.
“AR is one of the big trends in games, and we think the timing for BitPet is good right now,” Wang says.
Backgrounds from NTNU and Ukraine
Professor Wang invented the well-known and popular quiz game Kahoot!. This time he has teamed up with several others, including Mathias Grønstad, who completed his master’s degree in entrepreneurship at NTNU in 2021. Grønstad is now general manager of BitPet. The company currently has five employees in Oslo, Trondheim and Ukraine.
“It’s challenging for start-up companies to obtain qualified and skilled employees. But BitPet found a solution to the challenge in Ukraine,” Grønstad says.
Since they formed the company during the pandemic, when many people had to work from home anyway, working from different places has not been a particular challenge. The greater tension was linked to the fact that Putin and his allies invaded Ukraine on 24 February last year.
“This came as a shock to all of us in the company, and we feared the worst. So far, fortunately, BitPet’s employees in Ukraine haven’t experienced the war up close. But they have endured power cuts, regular air raid sirens and similar incidents,” Grønstad says.
Launched during major event
BitPet launched the game on 17 and 18 November during Slush 2022 in Helsinki. This is a world-renowned event for start-up companies. This year it brought together 2,600 investors, 4,600 representatives from various start-up companies, and 400 media people.
BitPet is one of 11 companies that were specially selected to launch their product during the event. They competed against hundreds of other companies.
“Our goal is to offer a game that can be played globally by many millions of players. We hope this results in better social and physical health for the players,” says Grønstad.
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