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Westfield seeks to grow mall traffic with new large format multi-player gaming theatre

The ESC Gaming Theater at Westfield
The ESC Gaming Theater in action at Westfield

At the peak of holiday season 2016, one of the United States’ largest shopping malls opted for a new kind of tourist attraction. Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey, replaced the traditional lone-standing arcade game or low thrill ride with a one of a kind gaming centre.

Known as the ESC Gaming Theater, the 750ft room includes a roof-high cinema screen, a live emcee, concert grade surround sound, pulsing lights and 30 touch screens for an immersive multi-player gaming experience.

Designed to bring together friends and strangers alike, this ESC Game Theater offers solo or team play games for up to 30 players at a time. A series of about a dozen games on offer span approximately five to seven minutes and can be either collaborative or competitive, depending on the crowd. With the emcee providing an energetic string of live tips and running commentaries, the entire activity becomes somewhat of a sporting event. Live tournaments are even held periodically for prizes.

The ESC Gaming Theater at Westfield
The ESC Gaming Theater at Westfield

The fun is all laced into a strategy to reimagine the future of shopping malls as technology continues to rapidly expand. At a time where shoppers are not only increasingly moving online and to mobile to carry out both research and purchase, but seeking experiences over merely material items, brick and mortar venues need to reinvent the wheel to encourage consumers in and maintain them for as long as possible. Gaming and entertainment is a big driver.

Charley Delana, Westfield’s EVP of global brand ventures, said: “Westfield is committed to redefining the shopping experience by leveraging the latest in technology and digital entertainment innovation. We are thrilled to welcome ESC Games to Westfield Garden State Plaza and we are looking forward to giving shoppers the chance to be among the first in the world to experience the future of gaming and entertainment.”

Capitalising on a projected 18% annual growth in the video game industry in the year to come, ESC Games CEO Todd Swidler has thought about massive expansions both in the US and internationally. “The video game industry is experiencing explosive growth, and we see major opportunities for ESC Games to pioneer a new category that taps into that demand through our unique game experience and competitive tournaments. The possibilities are vast.”

The concept for this mall initiative was incubated by ESI Design. Founder Edwin Schlossberg is an innovator of all things game-design; he entered the scene back in the 1970s when his best-selling book series taught consumers how to play games on their run of the mill pocket calculators. Once again, he gives a technology facelift to a quasi-antiquated model.


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e-commerce Editor's pick technology

Westfield explores the future of fashion with pop-up virtual reality experience

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Westfield UK is focusing on technologies like virtual reality (VR) for spring/summer 2015, with an immersive pop-up experience at the heart of a new campaign called Future Fashion.

During March and April, visitors to both Westfield London at Shepherd’s Bush and Westfield Stratford City, will be invited to wear VR headsets paired with gesture tracking technology. The interactive experience will enable them to see their own hands within the virtual world.

There will also be a large screen that tracks shoppers’ body shapes as they walk up to it. Westfield is referring to this as creating a “fashion avatar” – as the user moves, elements of three trends highlighted by Westfield for the season – denim, floral and future modern – are expressed with them, leaving trails behind as they go. Denim sees an avatar seemingly woven from thread, floral by different buds and colours representative of scent, and future modern by glowing lines.

Users will then be able to explore the three trends via Westfield’s ‘Edit Me’ trend microsite; digitally curating products to fit each of them from retailers within the shopping centre.

Myf Ryan, Westfield’s marketing director for the UK and Europe, said: “From research Westfield conducted, we know that shoppers are eager to explore new fashion technologies and are intrigued by new virtual ways to experience it – 52% would use augmented reality in a retail environment and 57% are tempted by virtual mirrors. This event will take our shoppers on an incredible virtual journey, which pushes the boundaries of fashion and technology.”

There is also a digital content hub surrounding the Future Fashion campaign. It will include a series of stop motion, hyperlapse and how-to tutorial films produced by Portas. The campaign will be further supported by social media, out-of-home and a press partnership with The Telegraph Group.

The immersive experience will be in place in Westfield London from March 27-29 and in Westfield Stratford City from April 2-4.