#RandomThought on Gaming in the Real World

I got this idea while watching the first episodes of Caprica last week.

I still amazes me how with so much emerging (mobile) technology, the gaming industry still revolves around people staring into screens. Yes, touch screen made things a bit more interesting, the Wii and the Xbox got rid of the keyboard – but people are still looking at screen.

Let’s stop for a moment and consider what the following technologies could do for gaming:

  • Location based services (and the rise of mobile computing)
  • QR codes
  • Ubiquitous face recognition (see face.com for details)
  • Social networking platforms
  • Augmented reality

I have done some research and indeed there have been some attempts to integrate real-world location into games. However, this is just scratching the surface.

What I had in mind was a combination of Spy School, real world location-oriented missions, surveillance (and avoiding it). Just think of the following  missions, for example:

  • Get to a location at a certain time (while avoiding detection by enemy agents)
  • Take pictures of a certain location, at a certain moment
  • Rendezvous another agent and deliver a data package (via QR code/Bluetooth, for instance)
  • Take picture of two people meeting
  • Follow an enemy agent while avoiding detection

Social Espionage Game

Of course, not the entire game would be location based. There would be enough “work” to do for technicians analyzing submitted data or field reports and keeping in touch with  agents.

For additional depth, the game could have several levels:

  • Data analyst – votes on whether the acquired data is accurate, sends reports to field agents
  • Field agent – takes pictures, follows enemy agents, deliver packages to friendly agents (QR codes)
  • Chief of operations – assigns missions, prioritizes tasks, decides if missions were successfully completed

Moreover, there are more complex roles that could emerge, including teams (agencies) and double agents.

I’m not saying this kind of social, location-based, mobile-supported game would be easy to engineer. Quite the contrary! But it is hard to believe that with existing technologies, this sort of challenge is outside the grasp of giants like Zynga or Playdom. This could prove an interesting endeavor for smaller sharks, like Alexis Bonte and his eRepublik (later edit: Alexis said he prefers “dolphins” instead of “sharks”).

And as far as monetization is concerned, it can range from virtual credits to having sponsored rendezvous locations (Gowalla style) to having advertising embedded in the messages that spies deliver.

Of course, there already are attempts at building this sort of game including Encounter and PleaseStayCalm, but I do believe this is just the tip of the iceberg.

As a conclusion, I believe that while mobile computing takes over conventional computing, gaming is bound to spill over into the real world. And there is a great opportunity waiting for the one who gets there first.

What do you think ?



Bogdan Written by: