New York Lottery joins AR gaming craze with new 3-D scratch-off

The recent craze over Pokémon Go, an augmented reality smartphone game that launched this month, has pretty much cemented 2016 as the year of the rise of virtual and augmented reality technology. Numerous video game companies have brought improved virtual reality products to market in the past year, and the rise of augmented reality – which mixes views of the real world with computer-generated images, graphics and sounds – has captivated millions.

Some people are dismissing the new technology as a fad for techies and millennials, but it has caught the eye of government. Already we have seen statements from the state Department of Motor Vehicles warning against playing Pokémon Go while driving. And Assemblyman Felix Ortiz has raised concerns that the technology could be used by predators to lure victims into unsafe places. The government is not just protecting against the new technology, one division is embracing it.

The New York Lottery has just released a scratch-off game that can be played in augmented reality using your iPhone or Android smartphone. It’s called Gold Castle, and it is the first of its kind in the country. You simply scratch off a small section for “3-D Play” and scan the barcode into an app. A castle pops up out of your ticket, and you can tap glowing windows to see if you won.

City & State recently spoke with the head designer of the new game, Liana Kadisha, who is the chief products officer at Paymaxs. The following is an edited transcript:  

C&S: What inspired this game?

LK: We had this augmented reality technology and we felt the lottery needed a little bit of an upgrade to make their games more engaging for customers. We pitched them on it, but they were happy to partner with us and take a step forward. They are the first state in the U.S. to have an AR lottery game, and it was inspired by just trying to get a piece of the state-of-the-art technology.

C&S: Is this designed to target millenials or is it for all age groups?

LK: All age groups have been loving it. Even people who are not technologically inclined are loving it. And part of the concern with virtual reality or people being on their phone too much is that they are not engaging with their surroundings. But augmented reality actually lets you engage with your surroundings, but you still need the ticket, you still have to buy the ticket in the store, but you get to interact with it.  

C&S: Government has been raising safety concerns about augmented reality games. When you are designing these games, what considerations to you take into account to address these inevitable questions?

LK: I think with any new technology there are things that have to come into the awareness of society. Of course, people should pay attention to their surroundings. But specifically with augmented reality and Pokemon Go it gives people a chance to walk around, go into new businesses; it has actually spiked a lot of business for small businesses because you can attract people to physical locations. I think safety is always a concern and people should pay attention to where they are when they are driving, or not looking down on their phone when they are walking on the street. But I am very optimistic. I think it brings people out of their phone to play and interact with the world in a new way.

C&S: Where do you see the augmented reality technology moving in the near future? Anything in the works?

LK:  Hopefully we are going to be able to come out with new games. We already have some demos behind the scenes for sports games and some other fun games, so we just want to keep everyone excited and on their toes.