A GROUP of children in school uniforms face each other as they stand on an underlit floor. Seconds later, they run and scatter — hiding under tables, climbing a rainbow tree, or attempting to camouflage themselves with the dark room’s walls. All of them find a hiding place except one child, who runs around searching for his friends.
Robinsons Land Corp. (RLC) opened PlayLab, a “permanent indoor interactive digital playground that offers physical and technology-based playing aids,” in Robinsons Galleria in Quezon City on Oct. 31 — the second PlayLab branch in the country and the first in Metro Manila.
“It offers kids a new unique bonding destination that is safe, wholesome, and photogenic,” Darwin Renolayan, special projects director for Robinsons malls, said in his presentation after the launch on Oct. 30.
The digital playground is meant for children between three and 10 years old. The play area can accommodate 200 children.
“Robinsons Land developed PlayLab to strengthen its positioning as a developer of lifestyle or family-oriented malls,” Mr. Renolayan said. It was built with the idea for children to have fun, interact with others, and learn.
“While our kids are immersed in technology, we’d like them to engage in active physical playtime, at the same time, be able to interact with [other] children,” Arlene Magtibay, senior vice-president and general manager of the commercial centers division of RLC, said in a speech prior to a tour of the playground.
The digital playground has 14 installations which were developed in consultation with media artists from Russia, China, Singapore, and the Philippines.
Upon entrance, children navigate through the Infinity Pool — a room with floors glowing with circles that light up and change color as they move around. The room is equipped with mirrors to give the illusion that it is larger than it is.
One area features The Digital Painter, a projector-based technology from Russia where giant crayons are used to color white illustrations onscreen. “We encourage kids to do this as a team because when you color the environment there’s a special animation that comes out,” Mr. Renolayan said, referring to a nursery rhyme which will play only when the entire picture is fully colored.
One room is filled with screens on which children can try different activities.
The Doodle Aquarium and Live Dreams require kids to color on paper and have image scanned before the illustrations come alive onscreen. In Doodle Aquarium, kids may draw any sea creature; In Live Dreams, illustrations of unicorns, fairies, gingerbread men, and rocket ships are able to move and interact when their images are tapped onscreen.
“For kids, coloring is a very good pastime. That’s why we require a lot drawing and coloring inside PlayLab. Every time they have [their drawings] scanned, there is always a ‘wow’ moment,” Mr. Renolayan said.
Meanwhile, the Fantasy Slope shifts from projecting an underwater- to outer spaced-themed slide with special effects. Planet Defense is a wall climbing area where children are given a mission to destroy invading aliens as they ascend to the top of the wall.
Another Land projects an underwater setting and creates a silhouette of the player who gets to play with orbs found on the bottom.
Creativity is stimulated with the colorful creations in Butterfly World. A child can have fun coloring a butterfly and a flower. Upon tapping the “bloom” or “fly” options, the creations are projected onscreen where the flowers bloom on a tree and the butterflies flutter around it.
In Ball Strike, the player is tasked to protect the toys by throwing balls at targets as aliens try to steal them.
Evolution of Stars is a floor that lights up and can detect a maximum of nine people. As a person lingers on a spot, the floor projects the names of stars — from protostar to neutron star. “This is specifically target for the toddlers who just want to walk around the area… It’s both purposive and eye candy for the toddlers,” Mr. Renolayan said.
Rainbow Tree is both a resting area and an obstacle course. Swings and couches are scattered around the tree where guests may rest. A hole is found in the tree trunk which gives children access to the top of the tree. There they find a colorful trampoline where they can play or insert themselves in deep circular pockets.
The Fantasy Water Flow mimics the flow of water. There are objects such as wheels, buckets, and umbrellas with which players can use to design their own paths for the water to reach a plant.
The Tap Tap Wall is a giant lightboard with circles that turn on and off depending on the pattern the guests create.
In The Giant, the player’s image is magnified and points are accumulated as they navigate in the changing environment. A photo is taken onscreen and printed after the visit.
“We intend to have a different roster of attractions per branch. We will reproduce the attraction if it is a hit with the kids,” Mr. Renolayan said.
Two additional branches will open in Metro Manila in 2019.
PlayLab is open from Sundays to Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are at P450/head for two hours of play. Discounts are applicable for senior citizens and PWDs. It is advised that children under six be accompanied by a guardian. PlayLab is located at the 4/F Robinsons Galleria, EDSA cor. Ortigas Ave., Quezon City. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman