“Ice Pilots NWT” unveils online scavenger hunt

Vancouver new media producer Switch United has turned the series' website into a site-wide game, where online players collect virtual cargo as part of the TV show's digital extension.
November 10, 2011

History Television Canada’s Ice Pilots NWT reality series is sending viewers on an online scavenger hunt to beef up its third-season website.

The digital extension comes courtesy of design studio Switch United, social games producer Pug Pharm Productions and FanTrust. Ice Pilots NWT is produced by Vancouver-based Omni Film and is now in its third season.

Using Pug Pharm’s proprietary technology, Vancouver-based Switch United turned the Ice Pilots NWT website into the homepage for “Air Hunt,” where fans for the TV series are invited to collect hidden cargo by flying around dodging birds, bad weather and other aircraft.

The flight-related mini-game is targeted at the show’s core audience, which consists mainly of males aged 35 to 45. It allows players to collect and manage their virtual cargo and connect with other fans of the History Television show through an in-game email communication system.

Fans also have the opportunity to win weekly prizes and a grand prize trip to Yellowknife to see the stars of the show, says Brian Krenzer, associate creative director, Switch United.

“This is the first time for the channel that a game has been created which incentivizes the way people interact with each other,” he says. “Scavenger hunts are nothing new, but for the first time, with this game, you are given the ability to benefit from making connections with other people using the game anywhere in the country. If you and someone else find the same [cargo item] and play it at the same time then you are both rewarded and are given the opportunity to exchange thoughts via the game.”

Three weeks into the latest Ice Pilots NWT TV cycle, online fan engagement on is up, with website page views up 17% and pages per visit up 34%, Switch United reports.

“We’re delighted that ‘Air Hunt’ is increasing online engagement, and that fans keep coming back to to play between episodes,” said Gabriela Schonbach, VP of Omni Film, and executive producer of Ice Pilots NWT.

Backed by funding from the Bell Fund and the Canadian Media Fund, Switch United developed and launched earlier interactive online extensions for Ice Pilots NWT for the first and second seasons.

(From Playback Daily, with files from Val Maloney, Media in Canada)

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.