The course introduces the key characteristics of location-based mobile games. The underlying idea is that with these games the players interact with the real world, perform physical activities situated in the real world and relate knowledge with places rich in historic value. As noted in a survey of location-based games (Avouris and Yiannoutsou 2012), these games are conceived as tools that employ the fun of a game and engagement with a specific location. They may be played indoors (e.g. in a museum) or outdoors (e.g. in a city center). In this course examples of such games will be given, with special emphasis to games relating to cultural heritage.
In the second part of the course, the challenge of designing location based mobile games will be discussed. A design framework is presented and a set of guidelines that may inform design of such games. This includes a set of design patterns, which were extracted from game design workshops. Several workshops for designing location-based games were organized and the designers were asked to generate game concepts for a hypothetical location-based mobile game, where the players should engage simultaneously with the real-world but also with its game-world counterparts.
Designing a location-based mobile game is a complex undertaking. Besides considerations about game mechanics and fun, which are complex in themselves, other aspects such as interaction between the players, the physical location and objects, expected learning outcome, etc. make this endeavor even more difficult. Several design patterns to be used in the conceptualization of location-based mobile games are presented. These are building blocks or partial solutions that can support the generation of game concepts. As to be useful design tools, the design patterns aim to strike a balance between the aim to give designers enough options and to avoid prescribing static solutions.
Next, in the third part of the course examples from location-based games developed by the course organizers will be briefly presented and discussed, in terms of concepts, design and implementation decisions, including MuseumScrabble, RebelsVsSpies, Taggling, etc.
In the final part of the game the participants are asked to answer the following question: What are the components of a game? A good way to address this question is through an example. This question aims at grounding the design process in the deconstruction of existing games and to start thinking about a game in terms of its main components.
The participants of the hands-on activity follow a ‘scenario’ where they become game designers. In this scenario: The aim is the design of a game where the players move in specific site, use smartphones to interact with objects, buildings, locations in it, interact with each other forming teams, collaborating, competing or antagonizing, have fun and enjoy the game, learn about the site.
The participants form groups of 3–5 and receive the relevant material (http://hci.ece.upatras.gr/pompeiigame/).
The activity is structured in two symmetrical phases. Each phase is followed by a presentation. The aim of the first phase is to familiarize the team members with the material. The actual design work is expected to happen in phase two.
Phase one (10 min) A rapporteur is chosen from each team. Each team formulates an idea about a location based mobile game using the Worksheet 1 to describe it
Presentation (10 min) The rapporteur explains and pitches the idea in a very short presentation (1 min per team) Very fast!
Phase two (10 min) The teams get back and improve, detail and modify their games. They can use any of the other teams’ ideas
Final presentation and discussion. The rapporteur explains and pitches the final idea in a short presentation. Discussion is encouraged.