Creating scalable location-based games: lessons from Geocaching

Carman Neustaedter, Anthony Tang, and Tejinder K. Judge. (2013). Creating scalable location-based games: lessons from Geocaching. Personal Ubiquitous Comput. 17, 2: 335–349.


Location-based games seek to move computer gaming out from behind the PC and into the “real world” of cities, streets, parks, and other locations. This real-world physicality makes the experience fun for game players, yet it brings the unique challenge of creating and orchestrating such a game. That is, location-based games are often difficult to create, grow, and maintain over long periods of time. Our research investigates how location-based games can be designed to overcome this challenge of scalability. We studied the well-established location-based game of Geocaching through active participation and an online survey to better understand how it has succeeded in maintaining user involvement and growth over the last decade. Findings show that Geocaching benefits by having players directly create game content, including both lightweight and elaborate creations. Geocaching has also made it simple for players to perform game orchestration by monitoring game content, other players, and even non-players. We then characterize location-based games according to various attributes and suggest how the lessons learned from Geocaching could be applied more generally to the design of other location-based games and in which cases they should not be applied.


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Geocaching, Pervasive games, Location-based games, Community, Global positioning system (GPS)


  address = {London, UK, UK},
  author = {Neustaedter, Carman and Tang, Anthony and Judge, Tejinder K.},
  date-modified = {2014-01-11 07:00:43 +0000},
  doi = {},
  issn = {1617-4909},
  journal = {Personal Ubiquitous Comput.},
  keywords = {Geocaching, Pervasive games, Location-based games, Community, Global
      positioning system (GPS)},
  number = {2},
  pages = {335--349},
  pdfurl = {},
  publisher = {Springer-Verlag},
  title = {Creating scalable location-based games: lessons from Geocaching},
  type = {journal},
  volume = {17},
  year = {2013},
  bdsk-url-1 = {}