What are location-based games?
According to the model above, a location-based games (LBG) is a type of media that exists in the field where the three spheres; “virtual”, “ludic” and “real world” overlap.
That means that an LBG is a game that is played on a digital platform, outside in the real world, plus the player’s physical location has to be significant for the gameplay. So, playing Nintendo in the park doesn’t count.
There are several factors that determine whether an LBG is of high quality. First and foremost, you need a good location. Secondly there must be good visibility for the positioning technology. Add to that a good network and a smart handheld device, that should make the conditions optimal for the skilled content writers and of course for us – the game designers.
THE GOOD LOCATION
When creating an LBG, it is important that the location reflect the game theme. Because the game is virtual, it is essential that it relates to the surroundings. Moreover good locations often hold many stories that may be revealed, if the visitor is well guided.
Furthermore two things should be taken into consideration: 1) Safety for the player. This means that the location should have a natural boundary, and be a safe place to explore. 2) Good GPS visibility. That is to say that it must be outside, without too narrow streets, or too many trees.
For a game to be played outdoors, the presence of positioning technology in the phone or in the tablet is required. Nowadays that is usually GPS, but it could well be other technologies, such as WiFi triangulation, NFC (near field communication), Bluetooth or triangulation via telephone poles, that finds the player’s position. You might also use other tools such as site-specific knowledge, landmarks etc. to identify where the player is located.
GPS, or “Global Positioning System”, was developed by the U.S. Army for military purposes, however, in May 2000 it was released for public and commercial use. Meanwhile, several other countries or unions are developing or improving their own satellite-based positioning system: Europe expects the Galileo project to be completed in 2019. India have IRNSS; Russia have GLONASS and the Chinese BeiDou. So the future offers even better and more widespread satellite-positioning!
There are several other factors that come into play regarding LBGs, such as mobile networks, where we currently have 3G technology, but are beginning to expand towards LTE and 4G long term. WiFi is also a technology that is worth keeping an eye on in terms of opportunities for LBGs. Improvements of these technologies will enable a faster transmission of data, between the different units that an LBG depend upon, and so help to enhance the game experience for players.
Finally LBGs run on a handheld device, like a smartphone or a tablet. On this point we are truly in the midst of a revolution in the prevalence of smartphones and tablets, and the programs and apps developed for them.