Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 335–349 | Cite as

Creating scalable location-based games: lessons from Geocaching

  • Carman NeustaedterEmail author
  • Anthony Tang
  • Tejinder K. Judge
Original Article


Location-based games seek to move computer gaming out from behind the PC and into the “real world” of cities, streets, parks, and other locations. This real-world physicality makes the experience fun for game players, yet it brings the unique challenge of creating and orchestrating such a game. That is, location-based games are often difficult to create, grow, and maintain over long periods of time. Our research investigates how location-based games can be designed to overcome this challenge of scalability. We studied the well-established location-based game of Geocaching through active participation and an online survey to better understand how it has succeeded in maintaining user involvement and growth over the last decade. Findings show that Geocaching benefits by having players directly create game content, including both lightweight and elaborate creations. Geocaching has also made it simple for players to perform game orchestration by monitoring game content, other players, and even non-players. We then characterize location-based games according to various attributes and suggest how the lessons learned from Geocaching could be applied more generally to the design of other location-based games and in which cases they should not be applied.


Geocaching Pervasive games Location-based games Community Global positioning system (GPS) 



We thank Eastman Kodak Company for funding our initial studies of Geocaching.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carman Neustaedter
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anthony Tang
    • 2
  • Tejinder K. Judge
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Interactive Arts and TechnologySimon Fraser UniversitySurreyUSA
  2. 2.University of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  3. 3.Virginia TechBlacksburgUSA

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