church in venice

Forget Pokemon Go, we played the best augmented reality game in Italy

Everyone (including me) seemed to get hooked on Pokemon Go this year, when it first came out. Several of us at work would go for a walk, and collect Pokemon along the way, and it was amazing to see many others doing the same, young and old.

At the height of this fashion, we went for a holiday to Venice, and I swapped one augmented reality game for another, one which really made the trip. 

It’s a game which comes in the form of a book, called “The Ruyi”, which has an introductory chapter which sets the story. An old professor is searching for an ancient artefact. The backstory is intriguing and plausible enough, it appeals to the part of me that loves Indiana Jones, and feels very Davinci Code.

The ruyi book

The book is essentially short passages of information about Venice, and the Professor asks you via sms to turn to an appropriate page (each page is divided into 3 parts so it’s more of a codebook). The page contains an interesting story about a location in the city. Then he asks you a question that you can only answer by visiting the location, usually involving counting things or finding the date carved into somewhere.

A location of one of the clues
A location of one of the clues which had an interesting backstory, hidden in plain sight

It’s all automated obviously, but getting a text message does feel like someone’s on the other end of the phone, needing your help. So it’s part travel guide, part game, and actually was a cool way of learning about Venice without reading through a boring book. In fact, we rented an audio guide one day and it wasn’t anywhere near as engaging.

The game does have an ending, and probably multiple endings as it’s possible to fail. Our final location was this old church away from the hustle & bustle of Venice, which was a perfect ending.

final destination