Reflective practice: Lessons learnt by using board games as a design tool for location-based games

Catherine Jones*, Konstantinos Papangelis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book or Report/Conference proceedingConference Proceedingpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Location-based gaming (LBG) apps present many challenges to the design process. They have very different requirements compared to games that are aspatial in nature. They take place in the wild and this brings unique challenges to the practicalities of their design. There is a need to balance the core game play with the spatial requirements of location-aware technologies as well as considering the overall theme and objectives of the game together with the motivations and behaviours of players. We reflect upon this balancing act and explore an approach to creative paper prototyping through the medium of board games to co-design LBG requirements. We examine two case studies of location-based games with different goals. The first case study discusses the CrossCult Pilot 4 app built to trigger reflection on historical stories through thoughtful play. Whilst the second case study uses the City Conquerer app designed and played in Suzhou, China with a view to exploring notions of territoriality. The paper considers how spatial, social and interaction metaphors are used to simulate location-based games in a board game and discusses the lessons learned when transforming the paper game into a digital prototype. It forms part of a thinking by doing approach. By comparing the board games to the technical counterparts, we consider how effective are the features and activities implemented in the technology prototypes. We propose a set of 11 design constraints that developers must be mindful of when transitioning from paper to digital prototypes.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGeospatial Technologies for Local and Regional Development - Proceedings of the 22nd AGILE Conference on Geographic Information Science
EditorsPhaedon Kyriakidis, Dimitrios Skarlatos, Diofantos Hadjimitsis, Ali Mansourian
PublisherSpringer Berlin Heidelberg
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9783030147440
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event22nd AGILE Conference on Geographic Information Science, 2019 - Limassol, Cyprus
Duration: 17 Jun 201920 Jun 2019

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography
ISSN (Print)1863-2246
ISSN (Electronic)1863-2351


Conference22nd AGILE Conference on Geographic Information Science, 2019


  • Board games
  • Design
  • Game design
  • Location-based games
  • Playable cities
  • Prototypes
  • Smart cities
  • Urban games


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