What can we learn from location based games?

Location based games have really taken off in the last year or so and they’re only going to get better but do those ideas have to be constrained to gps devices? Can you do location based game play on a fixed console such as ps3?

For a while now I’ve enjoyed using the likes of SCVNGR, Gowalla and FourSquare to discover new places and share tips. I’ve also enjoyed the game side of these, in particular 4SQ badges and Mayorships.

For those that don’t know about these the badges are much like achievements or trophies you find on console and are awarded for doing something extraordinary such as the ‘Jobs’ badge for visiting 3 Apple stores or one for visiting a pub on a “school night” or one for travelling on a boat+train+plane. Whilst these are using rewards were used to seeing on consoles the potential of something like Mayorships is interesting.

4SQ awards “mayor” status to a person who checkins in at a location more frequently so you can become the Mayor of your local coffee shop, school yard or bar. Retailers ace jumped onto this and some like Starbucks are now rewarding their Mayors with free real-world incentives. Just turn up, show your mayor badge and get free stuff. Imagine all those extra visits the store gets from the mayor trying to stay on top and all of the underlings trying to usurp the incumbent mayor. Genius!

Fixed location ideas?

Many of the fixed games have expansive online worlds so why not bring some of those ideas in there too?

Imagine how powerful a game mechanic this would be in a game?! Areas of your game map can have the equivalent of a mayor, even tracks, levels, bunkers, vehicles, avatars or anything else. Your mayor gets extra game benefits that they’re going to need to stay ahead of the thousands of people trying to displace them.

Naturally the mayorship would need to decay over time to enable new players to stand a chance and prevent someone being untouchable.

Both mayorships incorporate the social mechanic of recalling the existing mayor if they’re displaced to try and claim their seat back.

There are some fantastic things that we can learn if we continue to explore all aspects of our world bringing the best elements into video games. We shouldn’t just look at other games and try and emulate them as your naturally going to be 2nd best if you want to play that game.

(this is a mobile post)

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