From Turku Game Lab to the world
Biathlon is a popular TV sport and it is watched by a multiple number of spectators compared with, for example, traditional cross-country skiing races. The opportunities to test the sport are however limited. That’s why the new technology might cause a positive surprise to many couch potatoes.
Biathlon X5 is a new generation biathlon app, which enables anyone to test the difficulty of the sport, their own shooting skills and compete online with others.
Text: Johanna Stenroos-Vuorio
Pictures: RightSpot Ltd
Turku Game Lab, a working environment shared by TUAS and the University of Turku, has for several months been working on a biathlon app for the market in cooperation with RightSpot Ltd. Those interested in biathlon can experience the sport conveniently right before the World Championships in Kontiolahti, Finland.
- As a sport, biathlon is unpredictable, the situations change quickly and the spectator does not have to follow traditional ski chasing. In the sport, both skiing and shooting affect the end result, says the entrepreneur duo Ilkka Ratamo and Tapani Kiikeri, reflecting the popularity of the sport.
As ordinary people do not get many opportunities to try out the sport – especially the shooting – the entrepreneurs wanted to offer such a chance to those that normally follow the races from their couch at home. The soon to be released application has been built thus that it speaks very well even to those unfamiliar with the sport. Furthermore, as is the custom in modern apps, live playing is also possible.
- The Finnish Biathlon Association is also interested in our idea, and we cooperate actively with them, Ratamo and Kiikeri say.
The cooperation between TUAS and RightSpot has been going on for a while, and two games have already been created before the mobile game that is soon to be released.
- In Biathlon X5, the focus is on an entertaining, supplementary mobile service that is offered in addition to the TV screen. The interactive content of this innovative service produces additional information for the user and enhances the viewing experience by way of a game, says Mika Luimula, Principal Lecturer at TUAS.
Sports instead of shoot-em-up
As a sport, biathlon is unpredictable, which also fascinates Ratamo and Kiikeri. The founding members of RightSpot Ltd are both active enthusiasts in shooting sports and biathlon. Therefore the entrepreneurs wanted to develop a biathlon app which provides the player an experience on the true nature and reality of the sport.
- The game we have developed is not about shoot-em-up but about focus. The point of view throughout the entire development work has been sports, in an environment that is as realistic as possible, Ratamo and Kiikeri say.
Such an app cannot be created without thorough knowledge of the sport. The Game Lab experts involved in the implementation of the app also needed to understand this. It seems to have worked out:
- Such an app is not available elsewhere, so we believe that sports enthusiasts and those interested in biathlon will find our product, both in Finland and abroad, the entrepreneurs say.
The app, available in four languages, has been developed for the international market. The language options are English, German, Russian and Finnish.
In the footsteps of Kurt Thune and Pete Patruuna
Several steps needed to be taken before the biathlon app, and the first steps were training apps called Kurt Thune Training and Pete Patruuna.
Back in the day, Kurt Thune Training was the first step to the world of game apps for the entrepreneurs who are competitive shooting enthusiasts. The app was aimed directly at those who have the sport as a hobby and the idea of the game was to offer an opportunity to practice shooting also elsewhere than on the shooting range.
- The game models the sight movements of a rifle shooter as realistically as possible, Kiikeri says about the game.
The game idea behind Pete Patruuna was equivalent to that of Kurt Thune Training, but a rejuvenated version of the game for sports enthusiasts that are less than 14 years of age.
Online championships in Kontiolahti simulated to answer the conditions in the area
The IBU World Championships Biathlon 2015 will soon take place in Kontiolahti. The Biathlon X5 app will also be available for download then. This means that spectators of the championships do not need to settle for just spectatorship. This is guaranteed by the Online championships that are organised in connection with the World Championships.
- The Online race is organised in connection with both men’s individual 20 km race and women’s individual 15 km race, Ratamo and Kiikeri say.
The entrepreneurs promise that the end results of the Online races will even be comparable to the real results. How can this be possible?
- We have modelled the conditions in Kontiolahti as well as possible. The track profile, weather conditions and other conditions mirror the actual conditions on the spot, Kiikeri and Ratamo recount.
Yes, with the help of the app you can acquaint yourself surprisingly well with the sport. The purpose is to attract new enthusiasts to the sport itself but also bring the sport in a new way to those watching it at home. The entrepreneurs envision that a young person who is an avid gamer might get excited about the sport through the mobile game so much that they will start practicing the sport for real.
- Once you get to act in an environment which includes real elements (wind and other weather conditions), the possibilities for getting excited about the sport are real. The user will get an authentic experience on biathlon, the entrepreneurs say.
In conclusion, Biathlon X5 offers entertaining content to consumers, but the focus is on sports. The app is available for free download at Google Play and Windows Phone Store. In App Store it is available in the week number 9.
Ilkka Ratamo, RightSpot Ltd, phone +35850 3672 444
Tapani Kiikeri, RightSpot Ltd, phone +35840 5544 853
What is Turku Game Lab?
TUAS has been in a central role especially in terms of game development. The University of Turku has been in an expert role in the game design and canvassing the business models.
Turku Game Lab, which is funded by the Technology Industries of Finland Centennial Foundation, is an innovation environment of Turku University of Applied Sciences and the University of Turku, where students from both the technical and artistic fields can meet and develop games together. Students interested in game development have access to facilities and tools for game development, and versatile help from teachers and experts in the field. In addition to entertaining games, Turku Game Lab also serves the needs of the economic life in the region, which include benefiting and applying game technologies in their business.