Monday, August 18, 2008

Fun with GPS

I've talked about GPS in this blog before but usually in the context of geotagging pictures (e.g. Maps and mobiles). I am aware of its educational potential (see for example Ollie Bray and Noel Jenkins) but have never tried it with a class myself. I also know about leisure uses such as geocaching - mostly through my friend Gordon McKinlay and his Flickr account. I'd even heard of GPS Art projects. However I was unaware that GPS technology was beginning to find its way into games.

What prompted this post was an article I saw in a free paper (London Lite) about a game called Fruit Farmer from Locomatrix. Fruit Farmer is a bit like a cross between Pac-Man and orienteering! Essentially, your handheld device displays a virtual map with fruit to collect and "killer wasps" to avoid. You then run about in the "real world" using GPS to track your position. Get to the right place and collect a fruit. I suppose it is a logical extension to the Wii - using more than just your thumbs to control a game. You can play as an individual or with a group of people and can even design and upload your own levels. This has got to have potential uses in schools. The only problem might be the health and safety implications of running about outside while staring at a small screen. There are other games on the Locomatrix site and their tag line is:
Jumpers-for-goalposts for the Wii generation. Bringing gaming back outside.
Hopefully I'll have a go at their games soon. I'll let you know how I get on. :-)

Another GPS game site that looks interesting is Mscape. Their tagline is"
Get out and explore. Discover the unexpected – games, guides, stories triggered by your GPS location.
They have straightforward games such as Stamp the Mole, which are not tied to a particular location but there are "anchored" activities too (e.g. the London mscape challenge). According to the site, "Mediascapes are rich in interactivity — full of sound and music, images and text, videos and animation, narrative and dialog, all embedded in the space where you’re standing." As well as downloading the examples that are already there on the website, you can create your own mediascapes and upload them for others to use. Good fun and huge educational potential I think.

Finally, a few other games I came across while reading around this area (although I've spent even less time looking at these than I did with the two already mentioned).
What do you think? Interesting development or yet another nail in the coffin of "real" play? I'd be interested in hearing what Derek Robertson makes of these games and I'd be interested in hearing from anybody who has actually played one.


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1 comment:

john said...

An interesting looking set of links to work through, thanks.
Seems these might have the possibility of bring some folk back to 'real' play?