Pittsburgh Pirates’ Super Bucco Run Rides on Ross Video XPression

The interactive game takes advantage of the videoboard’s location in PNC Park

Baseball teams have long sought ways to engage with fans through the use of interactive games played between innings. Whether on the stadium’s main video display or on fans’ smartphones, those games usually consist of thousands of fans interacting with a single experience. The Pittsburgh Pirates have taken the idea of interactive games a step further with Super Bucco Run, a one-of-a-kind in-game fan experience made possible by Ross Video.

Super Bucco Run, played after the fifth inning at every other Pirates home game, is played on the Pirates’ outfield video display. Unlike videoboards at most baseball venues, the 136- by 10-ft. video display at PNC Park is at field level in right field, inspiring Matt Zidik, manager, in-game entertainment, Pittsburgh Pirates, to get creative.

A fan gets to play Super Bucco Run at a Pittsburgh Pirates game.

“I knew I wanted to do something very interactive with our board, something unique, because the placement of our board is unique,” he explains. “There are other teams that have outfield-wall boards, but what makes ours unique is that it is field level [and] literally comes down to the ground. I wanted to try to do something that was unique given its location, and I just happened to think of Super Mario Run. That kind of was the inspiration for the idea.”

Taking his cue from the popular game, Zidik envisioned a life-size videogame played in right field. However, the lucky fan chosen to play it wouldn’t just be handed a controller: he or she would actually be a part of the game, running the length of the board and back, hitting blocks to retrieve parrot heads, leaping over a pipe — all in 45 seconds.

Zidik turned to Ross Video and local production company TMI Digital to turn his idea into reality. TMI Digital handles the background graphics of the game, and Ross Video XPression and Dashboard power everything else: one channel of Ross XPression feeds all the elements to the board in real time, and Dashboard controls the entire interactive experience. Zidik or one of his assistants triggers Dashboard based on the on-field player’s movements, but the entire game is up to the player to win.

“[The player] stands in front of the board, and, as they jump, somebody is triggering Dashboard to hit the block,” says Greg Kuh, lead designer, creative services, Ross Video. “They have to do all four blocks, and then they have to turn around and run all the way back; the flag comes out for the winner. It’s completely interactive to the person having to actually play the game, rather than its just being re-rendered and they just play along with it.”

One of the major hurdles that Zidik and Kuh knew they had to overcome was how to adapt the game for an adult or a child. Kuh worked with Zidik to create a completely customizable, height-adjustable system that would work for a fan of any height. He also added in a randomize option, so that the game would not be the same each time it is played.

“Everything that we end up doing with Ross XPression and Greg [Kuh], who we work with the most, we’re really excited about,” says Zidik. “Another new feature for this year that we’re really quite excited about is our overall game in progress. We’re very big on trying to take 3D worlds and 3D creations and do real-time camera movements within these worlds within XPression, which is really an amazing thing that we’ve accomplished.”

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