Caveat parentis: Nanovor is coming. Something akin to the Pokemon phenomenon, it may soon sweep the world, seizing kids in its grip and voraciously sucking cash from your wallet. The secret sauce is in the game’s online/real world mashup.
Developed by Smith & Tinker, which was founded by Seattle game producer Jordan Weisman (creator of the artificial reality promos for A.I. and the MechWarrior video game franchise), Nanovor centers on nanoscopic silicon dust mites that inhabit your PC. Taking the core of Pokemon, and mixing in a healthy dash of Spore, the main idea is that kids will collect different versions of Nanovor each with its own strengths and set them into battle with each other because, as the promo video puts it, “these little buggers love to fight.”
Technology has moved on from the days of Pokemon, so Nanovors live in the online world, but also cross over into the handheld one. A dedicated Nanoscope gaming device that lets you take your creatures with you in your pocket is expected to launch in October for $49.99. Along with amusing your kids on long car journeys, there’s a social angle since up to four of these Nanoscopes can be magnetically mated together to allow battles directly. Each win accumulates points for the gamers, who can then connect the Nanoscope to a PC to update the virtual archive for the game. That’s going to be a potent mix.
If you’re a cash-strapped parent with a kid aged 8 years or up, and this all sounds like a nightmare to you, it gets worse: To drive the game into the public’s imagination there will be trading systems, TV campaigns, cartoons, those Nanoscopes, and “booster packs” to add Nanovors to your kid’s collections. There’s $4 million set aside to run a promotional campaign on TV, in newspapers and elsewhere between now and the holiday season.
You won’t be able to escape. And, to be honest, the game sounds like it’ll be pretty good fun. There’s even a tiny educational angle in there, allied to a special trading system that lets kids trade their evolved Nanovor with each other. That could be seen as a vehicle for teaching kids the power of currency and diplomacy, and tomorrow’s virtual economy. Though these are kids we’re talking about, so it could be a recipe for black eyes too.