‘Pigeon Panic’ Proves That AR is Only Going to Make the World a Stranger Place

As first to market with a robust augmented reality function baked right into its mobile operating system, the various projects we’ve seen using Apple’s smartphone-based AR platform have tended to range from the useful, to the artful, to the downright silly. Targeting the ‘downright silly’ category is Pigeon Panic, a deliciously strange game from AR studio Combo that lets you chase virtual pigeons through the park, making everyone around you wonder what the hell you’re doing with your life.

To play, all you have to do is pick a spot on the ground, chuck out a mass of hamburgers, donuts and pizza, and watch as the dopey virtual pigeons arrive for the feast. Waiting for just the right moment, the objective is to scare off as many of skyrats as possible before the timer hits zero.

The game, while not exactly high on replay value, demonstrates AR’s unique ability to immerse you in an invisible digital world that really leaves people wondering why you’re having so much fun running around the park. While it doesn’t offer the sort of game mechanics you’d stick around for like Pokemon Go, it certainly gives you a taster for what’s in store for the future of AR games.

Sam Piggott, developer on Pigeon Panic and co-founder of Combo, recalls the moment when the idea was born. “Pretty much the day after the announcement at WWDC, we were sat in an East London coffee shop, coming up with a concept for the new game; something fairly simple to grasp in concept, but dependent on AR for execution. There were a bunch of pigeons outside pecking at some bread outside the coffee shop window, and one of us was like, ‘what if….?’”.

“The whole experience was designed to be quite silly,” says Piggott. “We wanted to pull together an experience that let anyone relive that juvenile feeling of scaring off flocks of birds – without the crushing fear of judgement from onlookers.”

“In retrospect, it’s probably equally as strange to be seen running around open spaces with an iDevice, though”, he added.

Pigeon Panic is free, and currently available for download on the App Store for most devices that can run iOS 11.

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