Location-Based Gaming The Future Of How We Play
Our mobile’s apps are continually using our location. You only need to look at the recent Squack app we reviewed to see that. Or Foursquare. Or Facebook. In fact it’s likely that the vast majority of your apps will use location. And it’s seeping into gaming too.
Of course for many years location has been a big part of how we play. The likes of hide and seek and capture the flag were both huge games growing up as children, and as our gaming becomes more technologically advanced, so does location when it comes to gaming.
In recent times, location-based games have started to grow hugely in the last few years with the likes of Global Outbreak hitting the app stores around this time last year.
It adds a new dimension to gaming with us able to play with people in and around our location and in Global Outbreak’s case, a location-based leaderboard. And brands are starting to capitalise on it.
Whether it be in-game services or simply targeting certain areas with certain offers it’s really taking off.
In the mobile gambling industry for example – an industry which is growing at a rapid rate – brands such as Euro Palace who have members from across the globe, now have the power to target specific regions with marketing campaigns, not only benefitting themselves, but the customer too.
And in many cases, brands will allow you to play based on location so you can play a hand with players from your own nation, simplifying language barriers players could find and generally encouraging more engagement amongst users.
It makes sense in a world where around one in five people own a smartphone, but one brand who has really taken it to the next level is Rovio’s Angry Birds. The game, which has amassed over two billion downloads has used location-based features that gives certain regions access to new characters and content, whilst they have also added the local leaderboard feature which can even give rankings provided by which coffee shop you’re drinking and playing in.
With mobile gaming continuing to grow at an incredible rate games are inevitably going to advance alongside that. Location-based gaming has already touched down, and it’s likely to take off as quickly as an angry bird being catapulted towards a group of little green pigs.
Squack – must have tracking app for every GeoGeek!
Sometimes you find out about an app which you have always thought of but it was never out there. That’s the case of Squack – iOS location-based app developed by Tomasz Czernecki, engineer from Toronto, Canada.
WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?
The idea behind the app is very simple. The whole world has been divided into 500 million 1 km² squares. Whenever you physically enter a square you “collect it” and gain 1 point. The more places you visit, the more points you have and the higher in the Squack community you are. Can you image anything simpler and yet fun for travellers around the world?
The app works seamlessly so you can track every place you’ve ever been to without taking out your phone from the pocket every 5 minutes. Moreover you can run it offline and then upload it once you’re connected to the Internet, so you can easily use it abroad.
GEOGEEK PERSPECTIVE: RASTER VS. VECTOR
From the perspective of GeoGeek tracking your movement around the world is cool but the app gives some even cooler possibilities. We’re all used to tracking our location with jogging or hiking apps. We track our journeys by car, bike and even on skis. These all apps track our location in a vector format – GPS points connected along the path. Squack is the only app I know that let’s you record your location in a raster-like format (dot matrix e.g. satellite photo).
ARE YOU SPATIALLY HOMOGENEOUS?
If you would be tracking your activity 24h a day for one month in a vector way you would get a messy image of crossing paths. Visualising and analysing it in an aggregated, raster format allows you to notice patterns of your spatial behaviour you might not be able to detect otherwise. Are you spatially homogeneous or heterogeneous? Do you typically stay in your local neighbourhood or are you a kind of person that moves all around the city? Analysing it in a raster way gives totally different perspective.
Using “the raster way” has one more advantage over the GPS location pin-pointing, it doesn’t drain the battery as much as typical tracking app.
SQUACK – SIMPLE BUT EVERY GEOGEEK NEEDS TO HAVE IT
At the end Squack is very simple but useful app. I believe that every GeoGeek should give it a try. Just run it in a background of your iPhone for couple of weeks and learn more about your spatial behaviour.