Utah County-based video game company offering chance at $5K via summer treasure hunt | News, Sports, Jobs

Courtesy Adam Sidwell

This undated photo shows Adam Sidwell, developer of the mobile game Swords, a mobile treasure hunt game launching Saturday, June 15, 2024.

A Pleasant Grove-based video game company is turning Utah into a real-life gaming adventure this summer through its mobile app.

Instead of gaming indoors, this fantasy role-playing game takes users on a journey battling monsters, completing quests and hunting for the hidden treasure while exploring the outdoors, with one victorious participant scoring a grand prize of $5,000.

Alpine resident Adam Sidwell, CEO of Future House Studios and developer of the game Swords, calls it “a cross between Pokemon Go, the Legend of Zelda, and geocaching.”

Sidwell said as users take on the virtual adventure of fighting monsters, finding swords and exploring different levels of the experience, the difference from traditional video games is that this takes place outdoors. “Our whole idea is that we’re going to turn this whole state into a video game. Like, people are going to have to go around their neighborhood and explore, get to know their neighborhood a little bit better,” Sidwell explained.

Future House Studios previously has worked with the makers of Pokemon Go in developing augmented-reality games and experiences. The studio also helped build other intellectual properties such as the Transformers: Decepticon Invasion VR ride for Dave & Buster’s, according to a press release.

Sidwell says an inspiration for Swords comes from his work as a visual effects artist for movies like “Transformers,” “King Kong” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.” “A lot of my job was to put monsters into the real world, you know, in movies. And so when this technology became available, where I could say, ‘Oh, I can put monsters through augmented reality into somebody’s neighborhood and they can interact with them.’ That was so cool,” he told the Daily Herald.

The recent treasure hunt craze in Utah has been bringing people from across the country to the state to get in on the action. Last July, an Iowa woman won $25,000 for solving a riddle during the Utah Treasure Hunt, ABC4 reported.

Sidwell and Future House Studios have already organized two hunts, with a $1,000 prize.

For the upcoming challenge, players will need to gain clues to find a real-life sword stashed away somewhere in the wilderness. The summer quest for Swords starts Saturday, but beta users could get an early start on the game before anyone else.

The main treasure will score someone a grand prize of $5,000, but other prizes also will be awarded.

“To really play to win, you need to explore and complete the challenges and level up your character,” Sidwell explained.

Ultimately, he hopes participants have fun with this summer gaming adventure while exploring new destinations. “Maybe a really cool waterfall or a park that you didn’t know is down the street from you or something like that, a monument. Anything like that helps you see your neighborhood with new eyes and see the state with us,” Sidwell said.

The mobile app is available on Android and Apple devices. Those interested in signing up can visit Players of all ages in Utah County and throughout the state are welcome to participate.


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