Tuesday, 23 March 2010

geolocation, geolocation, geolocation!

Mad Brew Labs has an intriguing post on geolocation and RPGs.  The concept of using sites like FourSquare, GoWalla, Layar or Wizi to view location-based information and get has much to recommend it.  Even sans smartphone, you can use more accessible services like SCVNGR and the difference between a podcast and an audio tour is context - namely where you hear it.

You could augment existing gameplay by geolocation.  Pervasive play experiences such as Sandpit's V&A Late events and live-action roleplay (LARP) can be augmented by geocaches, mapped out on GPS route sites like Woophoo or location-specific websites.  This would lend itself well to things like cyberpunk-style data runs or games of exploration.  Set dressing and codes of practice may be needed to enable immersion and avoid misunderstandings though .

Going the ARG (alternate reality game) route allows you to get people to act differently in order to gain benefits (either in game or real-world).   Make following the trail as easy or as hard as you like - some ARG puzzles can get quite fiendish.  Evidence of activities would verify receipt of benefits ("Pics or it didn't happen!") and with consent, provides ready-made marketing.  Speaking of marketing... 

Imagine an event where clues are left at local bookshops.  Collecting the clues allows you to obtain a collectible or find a secret website with a sneak preview PDF, product web enhancement or even a secret level.  Given an online community (maybe Ning, Facebook or even your own site) fans can pool their efforts to work on the puzzles you've given them and this can only serve you well.

Now extend this further.  How about seeding some materials not just at bookshops but also nearby coffee shops, say a tasteful but small flyer in their window and a business card on their noticeboard with a URL - if the coffee shop has WiFi, even better!  Your audience gets a decent cup of joe, you get a whole new place to promote your content.  Such symbiotic relationships can be mutually beneficial.

Geolocation provides another channel, not just for games and story content but also for their marketing - with events like conventions, flash mobs and ARGs providing more opportunities than ever for people to get together and share something they really like, it's an ideal opportunity for someone with a bit of research and a bit of talent to build a passionate community.

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