New Zealand's Latest Tourist Ad Is A Video Game… Sort Of

New Zealand is looking to the world of video games to invite virtual visitors to its shores while the COVID-19 pandemic continues. The #PlayNZ campaign isn’t exactly a video game, but it’s borrowing heavily from them, promising the “world’s first gameplay walkthrough of a real country.”

New Zealand Tourism has partnered with Australian streamer Loserfruit to explore “the world’s most exciting open world… in the world,” with a ten-minute video showing some of New Zealand’s most popular tourist attractions in the form of a game walkthrough.

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/fl_I_Syh_TM

Sadly #PlayNZ isn’t a real video game, but it’s got some cute easter eggs that gamers would enjoy–including a hawk-bearing main character with a passing resemblance to a certain Uncharted protagonist. The faux-game has collectables named with the te reo Māori words “kaha” meaning strength, “aroha” meaning love, and “wairua” meaning spirit.

While not quite a game in the traditional sense, the website boasts a series of 180 and 360 degree videos–each in the format of a video game-style “quest”–to explore some of New Zealand’s wildest and most beautiful attractions in a semi-interactive format. There’s also one in there for the nerds, in the form of the Weta Cave, home of all things Lord of the Rings.

Though New Zealand has all but eliminated COVID-19, the country wants to keep it that way, and so isn’t currently allowing outside visitors who don’t have a good reason to be there. Though tourists are currently forbidden, New Zealand has restarted its film industry, with big productions like the Avatar sequels and Lord of the Rings TV show back in action.

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