Location awarenes = affordance for social encounters

Mogi-Mogi fans and location-based services designers should read “Seing” one another onscreen and the construction of social order in a mobile-based augmented public space: The uses of a geo-localized mobile game in Japan by Christian Licoppe and Yoriko Inada, Learning in the Mobile Age Conference (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, April 28–30, 2005). The article is about how location awareness of others in mobile game Mogi Mogi is important to create affordances for social encounters, excerpts I found relevant:

a case study about the uses in Japan of a geo-localised mobile game. The gameplay is that of a collection game where users, which are able to communicate between one another within a game-related text messaging system, must gather sets of related objects, that are both “virtual” and localized (that is accessible only within a given cell). The key feature is a virtual onscreen map that is continuously reset with each server request, and which features geo-localized players and virtual objects within a radius of approximately one kilometer.

This particular interface therefore allows players to “see” one another onscreen. We analyze the interactional onventions that develop through such mediated encounter and more specifically how “seing” one another in this way and the geographical closeness it entails become a pretext to start text-messaging exchanges, even between unknown players.

This case study of an advanced geo-localized game provides a first glimpse of what the experience of living in a mobile-based augmented urban public space might be like, and of the kind of social order that might characterize it.

The empirical work draws on a series of in-depth interviews with ten players who had played actively for over three months, and on the analysis of a large anonymous corpus of mobile messages exchanged between the players.

The 'onscreen encounter' in which the protagonists are able to perceive their respective icons on the screen map and to share that perception configures a form of encounter peculiar to context-aware cooperative devices like Mogi.

We have analysed how the participants reflexively oriented themselves towards publicizing their spatial position in order to develop specific formats of conversational openness. Through an analysis of written interactions between players, we have also shown how they oriented themselves in relation to potential vulnerability of their personal territories and ooperated to align or disalign incorporated 'situations' and screen 'situations'.

Why do I blog this? I am interested in the socio-cognitive functions of location-awareness, and its relation to mobile technology. In this case, we have an example of how location/proximity awareness as a social affordance to create specific encounters in the Mogi community.

Technorati Tags: , , ,