Dr. Gero Herkenrath



Gero Herkenrath



Designing Location-Based Games

Location-based games are a new, emerging genre of mobile games that use players’ actual position in the real world for their game mechanics. Since the platforms capable of determining this position, often smartphones or similar mobile devices, are becoming more and more common it seems reasonable to assume that this field will grow in the near future.

This dissertation will provide frameworks and guidelines for the design of location-based games and present several prototype systems as examples for developing such games. The first three chapters will provide the motivation for this research and a better definition for what constitutes a location-based game. Due to the relative novelty of these games the terms and boundaries to other games are not always clear, so these chapters also try to establish a “common ground” for the reader to better understand the concepts explained later on.

The main part of this thesis then presents a pattern language that is supposed to help designers of location-based games with their work as well as researchers with categorizing and analyzing them. It then explains a method to gain an at-a-glance visualization of player movements, the so called geo-sociograms. Since analyzing movements, i.e. a process that occurs over time―in the case of location-based games sometimes quite a bit of time―this has proven to be a useful method to get at least a rough idea about what is happening during gameplay. From there the work concludes three types of play concepts in location-based games that perfectly extend existing, prior research, the so called “Relevance of Place Dimension”.

Since especially a pattern language is strongly linked to concrete examples and applications the last chapter then presents several location-based games that were implemented over the course of this work. This section is in a way both, an evaluation of the patterns and other concepts introduced before as well as a description of how we arrived at those concepts. The patterns, geo-sociograms, and categories evolved alongside these location-based games