All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
This morning the New York Times did a profile of a number of cellphone-based games including ones from Giant Mechanic, Area/Code, PerBlue, and Groundspeak. These are “augmented reality” games that are using real world maps and your location within them to create new gameplay experiences. Items propagate throughout this meta-layer, and from the user’s location you interact with them. There hasn’t been a breakout hit yet, though Mindcandy’s Perplex City (a time-sensitive challenge, not persistent game) reached a degree of fame in Britain two years ago.
Real world gaming has a couple of other threads. One is successfully done by the new Monopoly: City Streets from Hasbro that had a rough technical start but looks promising. There reality is augmented (buying and selling, collecting rent on real streets) but you don’t need to move from your seat. Other games, such as TriplePoint client Seek N Spell, use the real world as a stage but the objects within the world are only a backdrop to the gameplay mechanic of your motion within that world.
There is a challenge with these games until accelerometers and location-based tracking gets more precise and widespread but with the march ahead of technologies whole new gaming experiences are just around the corner.