Cutting-edge technology and gamification techniques reflect current trends and challenges in the promotion of cultural heritage. Within this context, we developed the project "BRENDA - Digital Gastronomy Routes", which concerns the creation of an interactive gaming and gamified multi-level experience in the area of Kilkis, one of the regional units of Central Macedonia, based on history, gastronomy and the promotion of local products. The above information is introduced through a unique and integrated information system that can either be used separately as a cultural information guide, a system that presented routes, a local recipe guide and a learning game, or all together as an integrated experience that allows visitors to connect those experiences into a gamified experience. Hence, within the system, gastronomy is not limited to the presentation of traditional recipes of Kilkis but assumes an active role as it lists and connects local products to the recipes that are either grown, produced and standardized or available by catering services provided by professionals of Kilkis. Thus, the project includes an active role for restaurants, retail stores and enterprises such as wineries that have a direct relationship and influence on local products while at the same time it is used to highlight and connect the user with local history and culture.
The design and mechanics of the "BRENDA - Digital Gastronomy Routes" project can be used as a good example of cultural highlighting of other cities around the world, as beyond content integration it integrates seamlessly custom-made augmented reality functionality in order to support its gaming and gamified activities.
The purpose of this paper is to describe and highlight the aspects and parameters that arise when an integrated system that allows visitors to select and implement digital tours is produced. The system developed for the project "BRENDA - Digital Gastronomy Routes" that integrates all the interaction elements, including the narrative routes, is organised around the following components:
(a) a host web page to coordinate gaming experience and the authoring of the experiences,
(b) a mobile application based on HTML5 and WebAR compatible with Android and IOs operating systems
(c) Interactive games and AR with GIS capability.
The design and development of innovative interactive narrative routes (digital tours) aim to highlight the cultural and historical heritage of Kilkis for different categories of users, such as individual visitors, organized school educational excursions, universities and informal education groups, visitors with particular interests, e.g. historical researchers and tasters but also city and prefecture residents. Here, visitors complete the tours by visiting the locations interactively, hence a route can be completed either by randomly or sequentially visiting the points of interest. Two interaction modes are implemented. The first uses a simple multiple question form to engage users with the cultural information. This interaction mode can be used from every location. The second interaction mode is using AR recognition and requires the user to actually visit the location of interest. This functionality is implemented as an integral part of the location-based interface that focuses on point-based information. Users who are locally present (such as students who prepare for their future visit to the area) may explore the information remotely over their WWW browser. They will then be allowed to complete all the WWW-based quiz games, apart from the AR-enabled mobile games that become available when visiting locally the points of interest. The design and development of interactive exploration games featuring historical information provide sufficient credit that allows users to reveal local recipes. In the above cases, answering correctly the questions (both using the WWW interface or the AR-functionality) results in points being awarded that can be exchanged within the environment for recipe ingredients that must be purchased to reveal the recipes. Those recipes when revealed directly to the visitor to local businesses allow them to taste the actual recipes and be awarded further game points and gamified elements (status, access, power and free stuff) while the leaderboards are updated accordingly.
Hence augmentation is used for two purposes. The first enables the user to answer questions by identifying historical features and information that has been selected by the tour guide who collaborated on the project. The integrated system supports augmentation at the points of interest. The second allows the user who has revealed local recipes and has visited a restaurant to taste the recipe, to gain additional gaming points, that speed up the process allowing further recipes to be revealed. AR is used within the gaming part of the application to further increase the user's interest and acts as an added value to the application. A complete interactive game recognition application has been developed which works in an Android/IOs environment with the following functions:
• Allows the user to log in and identify as a user in the Brenda game database.
• Access the location of the user (if allowed by the user)
• Informs the user about the question to solve and the puzzle according to the system components (support for random or serial questions)
• In the case of a partner enterprise, it recognizes the item associated with the item to be consumed (which is unique to the enterprise) and sends to the game database, via URI, the details of the user and the item consumed in order to credit the points to the system and complete the process
• Recognizes elements in the physical pace through the mobile camera
• Informs the user, using an appropriate message, about the correct identification of the element.
• Using an appropriate URI sends the details and the response of the user to the central database
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Acknowledgement: This research has been co‐financed by the European Regional Development Fund of the European Union and Greek national funds through the Operational Program Competitiveness, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, under the call RESEARCH–CREATE–INNOVATE (project code: T1EDK-05099)