What's New in the World of Geospatial Gaming 2016
At Fulcrum, location is baked into everything we do. From helping our customers track wildlife in Kenya and flag landmines in Cambodia during the workday to creating maps of cool places to eat in St Petersburg in our off hours, where we are means a lot to us. Suffice to say, when we have a chance to check out an interesting app that uses geospatial data, we’re all over it. Today, I want to follow up on a geogaming blog post I made almost a year ago, and discuss some of the new games and apps using spatial data in interesting ways.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you might not have heard of Pokémon Go, the real-time scavenger hunt game that has grown its user base to the size of Twitter in only one week. Using your phone, you walk the streets of your city, looking for small creatures known as Pokémon, which you train and use to capture key points in your city, known as Gyms.
If this sounds a lot like a pared down version of Ingress, well thats because it is. Pokémon Go is built on top of the data Niantic captured from the Ingress Missions last year. The gameplay is similar, albeit with some new features and the Pokémon theme. Pokémon Go is a free download, and in game credits can be purchased for upgrades.
Swarm is an app produced by Foursquare Labs that allows you to compete with friends by checking into various locations and becoming the Mayor. Use your camera to take photos at the various places you visit, and collect stickers related to the places you go. For example, you might get a piece of sushi sticker if you visit several Japanese restaurants, or a mug of beer sticker for visiting bars. Swarm allows you to share interesting places and experiences, and humbly brag to your friends along the way.
Over the last few years, you might have heard of geodating apps Bumble, Happn and Tinder. All of these apps work in a similar manner: You create a bio & upload a few pictures to create an account, define a geographic radius, and are then presented with a series of profiles of people in the area. You swipe right if you like a person, and swipe left if you don’t. If both users swipe right, a match is made, and you can use the in app chat to begin talking to the person.
Bumble goes a little further, and only allows women to initiate the conversation if they match (kind of like a modern-day Sadie Hawkins Dance). Happn only lets you connect to your match if you and your match have actually crossed paths in the real world.
These apps are an interesting approach to dating, and can be a fun way to make new friends, go on dates, or maybe even find the love of your life.
Aurasma is an augmented reality app that uses QR codes from newspapers, posters, and other printed material, and overlays video, images, or buttons visible on your phone. These pieces of media can be clicked, played and interacted with as if they were right in front of you. Aurasma also overlays location data over the camera images, so you know the direction and distance to your favorite coffeeshop, or to discover a new restaurant. Aurasma looks like a promising app, but appears to be in use only in limited circumstances.
This is a really exciting time for the geospatial technology industry, and as more and more game developers tap into the power of spatial data in their apps and augmented reality offerings, I’d expect more games similar to Pokemon Go and Aurasma coming out in the near future.