Fab Gamecamp input – ideas about location-based games

In my  last post I summarised where I’d got to so far with my search for the active weather fronts of location-based games – and yesterday’s pickings at Gamecamp were so rich that I had to put them into their own post.

By the way – if you are within day trip range of London and interested in a mellow, friendly, interesting games unconference, check out Gamecamp.  From what I can figure, participants are mix of indie inventors, academics, and enthusiasts.   The content is whatever people want to say on the day.  There are about 10 parallel sessions of about a half hour each – so always lots going on! The lunch, from Princi, is in itself is worth the (beguilingly modest) price of admission.  But I think the best thing about it is the positive vibe in the sessions.  People offer their expertise and opinion in a constructive and supportive way.  They are genuinely nice to each other.  They work to make the session work.

And you will find yourself playing games as well as talking about them.   Last year – my first year attending – I went to a session on playground games expecting a lecture and I ended up leaping around a classroom like a 6 year old.  Well, not exactly.  Best effort though.   This year I went for something that required less agility and tried out a card game prototype called Drunken Prophets.  (Reader, I won.  No comment.)

I had been thinking about whether to do a session and almost didn’t as I’d had a pretty busy week and I felt a temptation to chill in low revs.  But one of the organisers nudged me and I’m glad she did, because so many fab people came to my session, and added a lot to my growing as yet unorganised warehouse of Useful Stuff.   Thanks everyone!

Here’s a rundown of ideas and suggestions (n.b. if I got something wrong please sing out, either via the comments form or the contact form on the About tab, on twitter or wherever):

  • we had at least 4 Ingress players in the session – one super-expert (level 8!!), the others dabblers – people  agreed there was an easy enough onramp for starting play, but to really get the most out of it you had to be committed, and battery life was a huge issue with a full charge only giving about an hour of play.  pro tip: our expert player said that people who wanted to play for more than an hour took chargers and chargepacks with them.
  • it was noted with interest that Ingress populates Google’s Field Trip app with geolocated content – a nice (and probably enitrely intentional) side effect for Google
  • we had a geocacher who updated me that geocaching has moved on to mobile – he said it was a great way to make transient, fun social connections via a shared goal
  • we had several Zombie’s Run! users, there was debate about whether it was really a location-based game (answer = probably not), many commented on its simplicity and lack of features but despite that, it had got several people back into running and was very atmospheric (in a scary way) – running alone on the moors or in a forest to the sound track of zombie pursuit was frightening
  • one player played a game at the British Museum, then realised he was ignoring the richness around him, which
  • the use of maps as a platform for games was seen by some as reductive and limiting – because of the cultural preconceptions about what abstractions the maps should support – and because of it inability to capture some important features (think “Edinburgh”) – though clearly also a huge enabler

People also recommended I check out:

  • Arcade Fire’s use of Google Maps and HTML 5 for their customised video soundtrack
  • MotiRoti
  • Haunted Planet
  • Blast Theory’s Fixing point
  • Amblr’s work on delivering “geo-located audio-visual experiences through mobile devices” (which is a quote from their graphic designer)

More than a handful of people were making their own location-based games, of various styles and flavours, one based on Google StreetView, nobody mentioned insurmountable technological hassles, but someone mentioned it would be nice to have a WordPress for location-based games.   Tool-wise, people mentioned ConductRR’s transmedia story telling app as a facilitator for cross-media content.

So, enough to be getting on with for the moment.    Thanks everyone!!

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