Location-Based Gaming for Fun — And Profit

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Hide and seek, I-Spy, Marco Polo and capture the flag were all popular real-life location-based games that you may remember enjoying as a child. These  games allowed us to use our imaginations and be interactive with others, as well as with the places around us. With the rise of mobile, games are being created that are once again place-based, but in a totally new way that encourages people to engage in real world interaction — and brings real opportunity for businesses and, more specifically, marketing.

Most location-based apps have some kind of gaming element to them, including the most popular ones like Foursquare which rewards points, badges and mayorships to users for checking in.  Many location-based games work by directing players to certain areas of a city or place to take a picture, record a video or perform an action. These are then uploaded to the game platform in order compete with other players.

Businesses can take advantage of this kind of gaming by participating, which in turn  can draw in new and existing customers in an engaging and entertaining way. SCVNGR is a great example of this. Each location within the game has a set list of options and associated points such as checking in, taking a picture, commenting etc. SCVNGR also gives location/business owners the opportunity to create their own challenges and associated points. So, for example, a local coffee shop could challenge players to take a photo sitting in a certain seat or drinking a certain beverage for extra points — a great marketing tool! SCVNGR also works with a user’s social networks so that progress/accomplishments can instantly be posted to a players Facebook/Twitter page; this is added bonus for businesses that then gain additional exposure (since other players of the game are encouraged to visit in order to make their mark on the leaderboard).

Some other great location-based games include I Spy – a little bit of a twist on the classic road trip game that encourages players to take pictures of the items they “spy” from a list the game provides. This includes road signs, animals, flags and much more. Family members or friends can even compete with one another if they have the app. Bounty Island is also worth checking out. The game utilizes real world locations to generate “island” puzzles that contain treasures for players to find. The more places a player explores, the more new maps and rewards they will find.  Even the wildly popular Angry Birds has begun to introduce location=based elements, allowing the option for players to compete with one another on a unique leader board tied to location.

Finally, if you want to take your gaming to more of a world/neighborhood domination mindset, unlocking your natural criminal tendencies, you should check out Please Stay Calm (location-based zombie survival game) or Life is Crime — both are about going around your city and battling others to control physical properties.

Asif R. Khan is a veteran tech start-up, business development and marketing entrepreneur currently serving the community as founder and president of the Location Based Marketing Association (The LBMA). Weekly podcaster at This Week In Location Based Marketing every Monday. Can be found at @AsifRKhan @TheLBMA on Twitter.