Geo-Social Gaming

    Thinktank Social

    For those of us that grew up in the age of the computer game sitting in front of a screen for hours on end, trying to finish “just this last section” making graphics dance, jump and dive while being immersed into a 2 dimensional gaming world via a game controller was the norm.
    Indeed i spent many an hour playing the classics of Sonic, Mario and who could forget the Zelda series.
    As entertaining as the classics were there was a limit to the number of ways a player was able interact with the gaming world. Companies like Nintendo tried a number of ways to create different ways for players to interact from laser/light guns to the Power Glove (pictured right).
    In the last 5 years we have seen an increase of games that include a social element, Call of Duty and World of Warcraft allowed players to interact with other players as part of the gaming experience but they still limited the user to be able to enter the gaming world fully.
    That was before Geo-Social Gaming came onto the scene, quite literally, which has moved the gaming world into the real world and moving the cliche “basement gaming geek” into the fresh air and sunlight.
    Geo-Social Gaming is location based gaming that allows players to interact with each other inside the game world via a social networking component but using the real world as a part of the game control. Inside a geo-game players are only able to interact with different areas of the game by changing their real world location and can only achieve game objectives by either working together or in some cases battling each other for game resources.
    Faster and smarter mobile devices plus a larger availability to mapping and GPS technologies has allowed games like Ingress, Parallel Kingdom, and NBA: King of the Court 2 to entice players to take part in everything from to playing virtual Basketball to conquering virtual kingdoms.
    For the companies behind these games the monitisation comes from either creating a platform for advertising, in-game purchases or in the case of Ingress creating a platform for geographic data collection.
    Ingress launched late 2012 and has since gone on to gather over 500,000 players (as of may 2013) from all over the planet and is still in a closed beta. With a very involved back story the game revolves around 2 teams trying to capture portals which are placed on landmarks such as sculptures and other public art, libraries, post offices, memorials, places of worship, and buildings of historic/architectural significance.
    Players from opposing teams (The Enlightened and The Resistance) interact with the gaming world by attacking the opposing teams portals and thus earns a player experience points (AP) which allows the player to gain higher levels to be able to power portals in better ways to defend against lower level enemy players.
    The company behind Ingress (Niantic Labs) goes to great length to keep the Ingress story going often holding game events in different countries that ties back in with the story which even see’s actors take part as characters from the story at staged public events. In one event both teams had a set area and time to capture as many portals as possible to secure the release of a character from the game that released much needed game elements to the team.
    It really is true that the games of tomorrow will blur the lines of offline and online gaming and as we move into the age of wearable computing there will be a point where we cross into virtual worlds of our own creation.