Location-based mobile phone games

This is a repository for all those mobile phone games using GPS or cell towers signals. I combined and reworked other lists to add most location based (or augmented reality) mobile games I could find info on.
Nov 2005 – 42 games referenced.


The Shroud, by Your World Games.
Location: US, 2006 –NEW

The first location-based role playing game comes to mobile in Winter 2006 The Shroud. Build a thriving community based on real world locations, defend it by any means necessary and venture out on heroic quests. For the first time, a truly immersive gameplay experience comes to wireless.
+ pics on IGN

RealReplay, by Mopius.
Location: US, 2005 –NEW

GPS racing on your mobile phone. It’s one of our inherent necessities to compete with other people and to compare ourselves to them. It would be perfect if we could compete with everyone, without being dependent on their time. No matter if it’s a car race, bike tour, sailing trip or a relaxed hiking tour.
RealReplay offers the solution. You simply choose the track you want to race on, select your opponent and start right away! Your own race will be recorded by an accurate GPS system, which makes it possible to see your own current position and the route your opponent took when he recorded his race. In some games this is known as the “Ghost” mode now you can race for real!

Treasure Hunt, by Treasure Hunt Mobile.
Location: US, 2004(?)
Treasure Hunt is a location based mobile phone game that uses GPS and internet enabled handhelds. We have hidden an imaginary treasure somewhere in your game zone and you must attempt using the clues we give you to try and find it. All players begin the game with one video or picture clue, and a number of multiple-choice answers, only one of which is the correct answer. Be careful when answering the clues, if you answer the clue incorrectly your next clue won’t be so helpful in your quest for the treasure, instead you might find yourself going in circles.

Songs of North, by The University of Tampere’s Game Research Lab
Location: Finland, 2004
Songs of North is a multiplayer game concept, in which the player is a shaman trying to either make the persistent game world a better, or a worse, more chaotic place. The game draws it’s inspiration from the Finnish mythology, especially the epic Kalevala. The background story revolves around the legendary Sampo, a machine that is able to produce anything. Sampo has been destroyed in the battles between the Northmen and the sons of Kaleva, and it’s pieces are scattered around the world. Player, the Shaman, has two options: if she fi nds a piece of the Sampo, she can either keep it and gain some power, or destroy it by sinking it into a swamp, thus returning the energy of the Sampo to the world, making it a better place.

The Journey I&II, by Jakl Andreas Reinhard at Mopius
Location: Austria – 2004?
The Journey is a new and unique adventure game experience for your mobile phone. You are in the role of an infamous detective and have to solve a mysterious case not only by making it through the story, but also by walking to different locations. The game is aware of your movement. Right at the beginning when you, as the detective, have to leave your bureau and go outside, you have to take your mobile and go through the streets of the city you live in.
The game saves the locations (CellTower ID) and in the course of the story you will have to return to your bureau and walk back to the place where you started playing.

GPS::Tron, by Tom Winkler
Location: Austria – 2005
GPS::Tron is an adaption of the classic arcade game Tron, for mobile phones. The players move in real space, they are tracked by GPS and their position influences their position in the game. The communication between the mobile devices is done over GPRS. The players do not have to be geographically close-by. The 2 players do not have to run, they can also play using a car, bike, ship, whatever.
(I remember reading somewhere that Dan Egnor in the US had a similar system running as early as 10/2003)

Frequency 1550, by Waag Society
Location: Amsterdam – 2005
Waag Society has developed a ‘mobile learning game’ together with IVKO, part of the Montessori comprehensive school in Amsterdam. It’s a city game using mobile phones and GPS-technology for students in the age of 11-12. The games examines whether it’s possible to provide a technology supported educational location-based experience.
In the Frequency 1550 mobile game, students will be transported to the medieval Amsterdam of 1550 via a medium that’s familiar to this age group: the mobile phone. The pilot will take place in 2005 from 7 to 9 February and is supported by KPN Mobile’s UMTS network.

Raygun, by Glofun
Location: US – 2005
A cell phone loaded with RayGun software emits “spectral” energy that lets you attract and track ghosts. Unfortunately, the energy also annoys the ghosts, so you’d better “ionize” them before they get to you.
Here’s the twist: RayGun is a GPS game, and to play it you have to move through the real world, that is, running around using your real feet.

Conqwest, by area/code and SS+K
Location: Several Cities in the USA – 2004
big game + treasure hunt + phone cam + semacode + giant animal + totems. ConQwest is a high-stakes, team-based treasure hunt in the urban jungle. Five teams race through the city searching for treasure in the form of printed codes that can be captured by phonecam. Each code has a dollar value, and the first team to find $5,000 worth of treasure codes wins the game and earns a $5,000 scholarship for their school.

Swordfish, by Blisterent
Location: Canada – 2004
An exciting new location based fishing game that uses the latest GPS technology. Using your phone’s GPS capability and Blister’s unique Swordfish finder, you can locate schools of fish that are close to you, move to them and land the BIG ONE!

Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis (mobile phone version), by Square Enix
Location: Tokyo, Japan – since 2004
[GameSpy] The most interesting twist in Before Crisis is how it utilizes the properties of a mobile phone. Materia is an integral part of the game and players will need to use the F900’s camera and phone features to make the most out of it. To activate the various types of material, you must take a picture of an object of a similar color. However, each phone can only have a finite amount of material; the only way to get more is to interact with other users. (It’s almost as devilishly clever as needing another player to catch all the Pokemon.) Players can also call each other for help when they’re stuck or tag along in an adventure, though not in an MMORPG sense as the creators want the game to be more random.

Undercover, by YDreams
Location: Hong Kong / Portugal – since 2003
[SmartMobs] YDreams and Hong Kong mobile telecom operator Sunday last week launched Undercover, a massively multiplayer, persistent game for mobile phone users in Hong Kong. In the game, the players’ real location is the main tool in a quest for justice and survival. Undercover has been available nationwide in Portugal since July 2003. Sunday Hong Kong customers are the first players outside Portugal to join the game – trial versions are planned for over 14 countries.

Mogi, by NewtGames
Location: Tokyo, Japan – since 2003
[IN-duce] For a month now, I have been playing a java mobile phone game called Mogi, Item hunt from French company Newt Games. It uses the GPS functions of the KDDI AU phones and allows you to pick up virtual items spread on the whole of Japan. Let the game know where you are and it will tell you what items are around you; if you get closer than 400m to an object, you can pick it up and try to complete your collections, you can also trade with other players. The objects vary in frequency and value and the aim is to get the maximum amount of points.

GunSlingers, Mikoishi Studios
Location: Singapore – 2003
Gunslingers is a multi-player network game where players move around, track and engage enemies within their vicinity. All this, just using just an ordinary handphone. You walk around Singapore, you locate the nearest opponent around you and then you blow the crap out of each other. The game uses network positioning technology to help you find the nearest enemy. It is similar to GPS or Global Positioning System, except that you do not need a special phone with GPS capabilities. We use Cell-ID-Network-Positioning-Technology.

TreasureMachine, BattleMachine, Girlfriend, Take-It, CrowdMachine, CreatorMachine, by Unwiredfactory
Location: Germany, Denmark

BotFighters, by It’s Alive
Location: Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Russia – since 2000
BotFighters is the world’s first location based mobile game that takes advantage of mobile positioning and let’s the users play against others in their vicinity by using a standard GSM phone. It’s a fast-paced game mixing action- and roleplay ingredients.

HANDHELD BASED (mobile phones may be used during game play)

Environmental Detectives, by MIT
Location: US – since 2002 –NEW

As groups launch their PDAs, they are presented a unique cover story, custom-tailored to their role. Environmentalists learn that a local watershed has become polluted with mercury after a class of students reports some bizarre readings during a routine examination of a local watershed. Later, the EPA learns of increased levels of mercuric chloride through routine inspection of a major river in the area. As fish begin washing ashore, a hostile press learns of this catastrophe, and immediately implicates a textile facility further down the river. As concerned parents start checking kids into a local hospital, the stakes are raised further.

Mystery at the museum, by MIT Teacher Education Program
Location: US – since 2003 –NEW

First indoor Augmented Reality simulation created by the program. In this game, teams consisting of a Biologist, a Technologist and a Detective must work together to solve a crime. The infamous band of Flamingo Thieves has struck again and stole a priceless object from the Museum of Science, but players must figure out what they have stolen, how they did it, and catch the thieves before they get away.

Vienen Por Ellas (They come for them), by Telefonica
Location: Chile – 2004
[WMMNA] Mixes the real world with the game world. Aliens are planing to conquer the Earth. They will capture all the women to fill the planet with “hybrid creatures.”
Users become part of an anti-alien organisation called Plan-EVA which tries to save the human race by solving quiz, answering questions, finding the clues, etc. Users play via SMS, voice messages, Web sites, WAP, moblogs, MMS, ringtones, etc. For example, by calling the 321 (called “intercomunicador 321”), the player can listen to his present mission, get clues to solve the riddles, etc. Forums were also created for players to share and comment their experience.
So far, the game is a success, with more than 300,000 users (mainly between 12 and 30 years old) registered.

I Like Frank in Adelaide, by Blast Theory
Location: Adelaide, Australia – 2004
This project takes place online and on the streets using 3G phones. Players in the real city can chat with players in the virtual city as they search for the elusive Frank. Whether braving the 40-degree heat of a South Australian summer or logging from around the world, the players will build relationships, swap information and test the possibilities of a new hybrid space.

CitiTag, by HP Labs, the Open University’s Knowledge Media Institute (KMi)
Location: Bristol, UK – 2004
CitiTag is a wireless location-based multiplayer game, designed to enhance spontaneous social interaction and novel experiences in city environments by integrating virtual presence with physical. In the first version of CitiTag you roam the city with a GPS- and WiFi-enabled iPaq PocketPC in search for players of the opposite team that you can “tag”. You can also get tagged yourself if one of them gets close to you. Then you need to find a friend to free you. Urban space becomes a playground and everyone is a suspect.

Uncle Roy All Around You, by Blast Theory
Location: London, UK – 2003
Uncle Roy All Around You is where the console game breaks out onto the streets; a game that pitches Online Players around the world alongside players on the real streets of the city.
Street Players use handheld computers to search for Uncle Roy, using the map and incoming messages to move through the city. Online Players cruise through a virtual map of the same area, searching for Street Players to help them find a secret destination.
Using web cams, audio and text messages players must work together. They have 60 minutes and the clock is ticking…

Urban Challenge, by Verizon Wireless
Location: Several Cities in USA – since 2002
The object of Verizon Wireless Urban Challenge is to visit twelve checkpoints in correct order and return to event headquarters. The first team back wins.

The Go Game, by Wink Back, Inc.
Location: San Francisco, USA – since 2001
The Go Game is an all-out urban adventure game, a technology-fueled, reality-based experience that encourages hard play and a keen eye for the weird, the beautiful, or the faintly out-of-the-ordinary. The “rule book” is reality, the “board” is San Francisco, and the “pieces” are the players — you and your team.

MobileHunt, by HIPnTASTY
Location: USA and Canada – since 2001
So you’ve played other people’s games, but have they ever played yours? It’s time for MobileHunt… the ultimate scavenger hunt game engine!

Cutlass – Treasure Hunt, by DCA Productions, Steve Bull (CEO)
Location: Times Square, NYC, USA – since 2001
No cellphone tic-tac-toe, Cutlass requires players to use digital phones, wireless PDAs, the net–even ordinary phones–and lots of real time footwork to find a treasure hidden nearby.

Seamful Game, by University of Glasgow, UK
Location: Glasgow, 2004
A fully featured multiplayer team game, which has been accused of being fun to play. Players must develop an understanding of the network coverage and the effect of signal strength in order to successfully play the game. In this way we are turning the patchy network coverage, which is usually seen as a problem to be overcome, or worse ignored, into a feature (indeed possibly the main feature) of the game.

Backseat Playground, by John Paul Bichard & the Interactive Institute
Location: Stockholm, 2005
Backseat Playground is a mobile gaming research project that will enable kids to
play with the world outside their window from the back seat of a car.
There are 4 core areas: Episodic Narratives, Real World Game Engine, De-focusing technology, Fuzzy Learning.

Savannah, by NESTA Futurelab
Location: Bristol, UK, 2004
Savannah is a strategy-based adventure game where a virtual space is mapped directly onto a real space. Children “play” at being lions in a savannah, navigating the augmented environments with a mobile handheld device. By using aspects of game play, Savannah challenges children to explore and survive in the augmented space. To do this they must successfully adopt strategies used by lions.

CatchBob!, by Nicolas Nova and Fabien Girardin
Location: Switzerland – 2004
CatchBob! is an experimental platform in the form of a mobile game for running psychological experiments. It is designed to elicit collaborative behavior of people working together on a mobile activity.

NetAttack, by Fraunhofer FIT
Location: Germany, 2004
NetAttack “is a new type of indoor/outdoor Augmented Reality game that makes the actual physical environment an inherent part of the game itself.” In this game, two teams are fighting to destroy the central database of a virtual big company. Both teams have indoor players, who control the game from their laptop computers, and outdoor players, equipped with GPS receivers, trackers, sensors and video cameras.

Can you see me now?, by Blast Theory
Location: Europe – since 2002
Can You See Me Now? is a game that happens simultaneously online and on the streets. Players from anywhere in the world can play online in a virtual city against members of Blast Theory. Tracked by satellites, Blast Theory’s runners appear online next to your player on a map of the city. On the streets, handheld computers showing the positions of online players guide the runners in tracking you down.

NodeRunner, by Yury Gitman, Carlos J. Gomez de Llarena
Location: NYC, USA – since 2002
A competitive game, Node Runner fuses the streets with wireless networks to convert the city into a playing board. Two teams racing against time must log into as many nodes as they can and upload photographic proof to the server, documenting their progress.

Navigate the Streets, by Level 28 Brands
Location: Several Cities in Canada – 2004
‘Navigate The Streets’ is an experiment in modern city exploration, in which teams of two compete using wireless gadgets and public transportation to race through nine different Canadian cities, solving riddles to discover their next checkpoint. While use of technology isn’t required, various WiFi hotspot vendors will be sponsoring the race, providing free access to participants throughout.

Demor – Audiogame, by Utrecht School of the Arts students
Location: The Netherlands – 2004
Demor is a location based 3D audio shooter. This highly innovative game was developed by a multi-disciplinary team of seven EMMA-students for the Bartimeus Institute for the Blind. Demor does not only focus on the entertainment aspect of computer gaming, but also attempts to contribute to the emancipation of the blind and visually impaired people in order to enhance their integration with the “sighted” world. It is a proof of concept developed on the basis of theoretical and practical research.

Human Pacman, by Mixed Reality Lab of National University of Singapore
Location: Singapore – 2004
The game has several novel aspects: Firstly, the players immerse in role-playing of the characters Pacmen and Ghosts by physically enacting the roles. Players physically move around in a wide-area setting, performing tasks to reach their goals. Secondly, Human Pacman also explores novel tangible aspects of human physical movement, senses and perception, both on the player’s environment and on the interaction with the digital world. Thirdly, users enjoy unrestricted movement outdoor and indoor while maintaining their social contacts with each other. Players interact both face-to-face with other players when in proximity (physically) or indirectly via the wireless local area network (LAN).

Pirates!, by PLAY research studio, Interactive Institute
Location: HUC conference in Bristol, UK – August 2000
A collaboration between the Nokia Research Center and the PLAY Research Studio.A PDA-based context-sensitive game were the players’ physical location and social interaction in a gaming area influences the events in the game.

Mad Countdown, by Playbe
Location: Switzerland – 2001/02
One of the first mixed/hybrid reality pervasive game using a physical building as a game board on top of which players, actors, physical artefacts, and diverse media (such as automated phone calls) communicate with the player’s PDAs & positions to track down a bomb in time to prevent a group of art haters from blowing up the University for Art Media and Design Zurich (where the game takes place).


Monopoly Live, by Hasbro
Location: London, UK – 2005 –NEW

Monopolylive.com let you play Monopoly in the real London with 18 real cabs fitted with GPS systems as your movers.
We pitted your cabbie against 5 others for 24 hours, and you could make millions by buying properties and placing apartments and hotels. There were some amazing prizes up for grabs, including your mortgage or rent paid for a year.

Digital Street Game, by Intel Corporation
Location: Manhattan, New York, USA – 2004
Crap name, Fun game. Digital Street Game is a hybrid game of misadventure set on the streets of New York. It’s a battle for turf, a contest of wills in short an excuse to explore the city. Players compete for turf by performing and documenting stunts on the physical streets of New York in order to claim territory on a virtual map. Stunts are comprised of a random combination of 3 elements: 1) an object commonly found in the city (e.g. bodega) 2) a street game (e.g. stickball) and 3) a wildcard/urban situation (e.g. happy hour). Players interpret these elements as they wish, then stage and photograph their stunt in order to claim a spot on the map. The more stunts players perform the more turf they claim. But of course some players may want to compete for the same territory. In order to hold on to territory, players stunts must score high with the rest of the game community.

Pac-Manhattan by Dennis Crowley, Frank Lantz (instructor) and others
Location: Manhattan, New York, USA – 2004
PacManhattan is a live-action version of PacMan, played around Washington Square Park, in which people in Pac Man and ghost suits chase each other through the streets, seeking out power-pellets.

Operation Urban Terrain, by Opensorcery.net
Location: NYC, USA – 2004
Two women in gear are on the ground. One with a laptop and the other with a projector pointing onto building walls in key locations in the city. They are connected through a mobile wireless bicycle to an online team of five game players located around the world. They intervene on servers in a popular online military simulation game with performance actions carried out by the whole team.The live projections in the city can also be viewed through web cams on the OUT website.

Geocaching/GPS Stash Hunt, by Groundspeak
Location: anywhere!!
A GPS device and a hunger for adventure are all you need for high tech treasure hunting. Here you can find the latest caches in this fun and exciting sport.

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