The Mother City’s tourism, trade and investment promotion agency, Wesgro, has become one of the first organisations of its kind in the world to launch a virtual presence on the Roblox platform.
Roblox reportedly has 54.1 million daily active users. The game platform is particularly popular among children, allowing players to create their own games using its proprietary engine, Roblox Studio.
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Wesgro says it decided on Roblox to leverage the proven influence of the youth when it comes to family holidays. Its marketing effort will see a series of educational, nature-themed games starring some of the Western Cape’s best loved destinations brought to life in a gamified way.
Starting with a “Climb Table Mountain” experience, it will feature child-friendly destinations, while emphasising the unique diversity of the natural spaces of Cape Town. Wesgro believes that the city, as Africa’s tech capital, should be digitised for all to enjoy.
A recent study by Expedia shows that the world’s youngest generation is strongly influencing family travel, with up to 87% of parents giving their children a say in family vacation planning. One third of US millennial parents even give their children full control over the final holiday decision.
As children of millennials, “Generation Alpha” – or those born after 2010 – are completely digitally native, and tech-enabled from a young age. Roblox cleverly captures this market with immersive gaming experiences.
“The world is changing, and we’re ready to meet that change,” says Wrenelle Stander, the chief executive of Wesgro.
“With immersive digital experiences already creating a captive audience, our game will allow kids to learn about the incredible biodiversity of the province. This includes learning about our national flower, the King Protea, and over 1 460 different species of plants, 300 of which are highly endangered. On the fauna side, special attention will be given to species such as the Leopard Frog and tortoise, dassies and the elusive Cape fox.”
Pioneering digital marketing and putting the Western Cape firmly on the digital “map” through innovative platforms, Wesgro hopes to engage and inspire this audience to ultimately lead their parents to choose the Western Cape as their next holiday destination.
Aimed at both the local and international markets, the first game will see players “experiencing” a hike up Table Mountain. Gamers will be able to fully immerse themselves in the beauty of this World Heritage Site including the breath-taking nature scenes. There will also be a heavy focus on educational content.
Roblox to unearth diverse natural spaces
The game will start with Cape Town’s Table Mountain Climb and then will move into the Western Cape, as the team is already hard at work on iterations that include exploring the beaches and kelp forests of the Garden Route as well as camping and stargazing in the Cederberg.
Wesgro’s chief marketing and communications officer, Jean Scheltema says, “Edtech and gaming are more entwined now than ever before. We’re building assets for audiences of the future, turning to the popular Roblox platform as first port of call to let kids experience the diverse natural spaces of the Western Cape.
“Globally, we’re seeing the move to an internet that’s less flat. We want to use the potential of the metaverse as an immersive, 3D, online learning space, accessible to a large audience and leverage new ways to connect the physical world with the online one. Gaming is a great way to tell the rich, biodiverse story of Cape Town to tweens and younger teens, sparking curiosity and consideration.”
Developers have worked closely with a well-known local botanist to ensure scientific and factual accuracy. Renowned Cape Town conservationist Alex Landsdowne concludes, “Cape Town is one of the most biodiverse cities in the world. It is also the only big city in the globally unique Cape Floristic Kingdom. Therefore, it’s fantastic that the world gets to experience our unique flora and fauna through this innovative game.”
Wesgro will be piloting the uptake locally, using influencers in tech and gaming like Kairo Forbes boasting a million youth market followers and Grant Hinds, a tech YouTuber and Twitch streamer. The game will launch in the United States later this year.