In location-based games, the city - its streets, architecture and everyday objects - become the “game board”. They bring the physical environment into the game through mobile and GPS technologies that track their players’ locations. The release of Pokémon GO in 2016 launched location-based games into the mainstream. But these games have a much longer history, dating back to early artistic and commercial experiments from the early 2000s onwards.
The exhibition showcases this broader history, from the invention of geocaching to the first experimental games like Can You See Me Now? and Pac-Manhattan. Location-based games emerged after precise GPS (Global Positioning System) data was made available for civilian use by the U.S. government in May 2000. Artists, amateurs and game designers began to experiment with a combination of mobile phones, GPS trackers and custom-made devices to take gaming out into the streets.
In June 2008, Apple released the iPhone 3G along with its App Store service.This combination of built-in 3G connectivity and the app distribution model meant location-based game designers could now reach a global audience through a single platform. Parallel Kingdom was among the first location-based games for iOS and Android. It was also the first indication of the massive popularity of smartphone apps like Pokémon GO and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.
The exhibition also allows you to test a unique location-based game. Wayfinder Live: Vapriikki was created by Troy Innocent, the creator of Wayfinder Live. The game extends all over the museum centre Vapriikki and guests can play it on their phones.