Journal paper about Can You See Me Now?

A paper to be published in Transactions of CHI:Can You See Me Now? by Steve Benford, Andy Crabtree, Martin Flintham, Adam Drozd, Rob Anastasi and Mark Paxton + Nick Tandavanitj, Matt Adams and Ju Row-Farr.

This article is a very good milestone, it's a journal paper that accounts the experience they had with the game Can You See Me Now?.

We present a study of a mobile mixed reality game called Can You See Me Now? in which online players are chased through a virtual model of a city by ‘runners’ (i.e., professional performers equipped with GPS and WiFi technologies) who have to run through the actual city streets in order to catch the players. We present an ethnographic study of the game as it toured through two different cities that draws upon video recordings of online players, runners, technical support crew, and also on system logs of text communication. Our study reveals the diverse ways in which online players experienced the uncertainties inherent in GPS and WiFi, including being mostly unaware of them, but sometimes seeing them as problems, or treating the as a designed feature of the game, and even occasionally exploiting them within gameplay. In contrast, the runners and technical crew were fully aware of these uncertainties and continually battled against them through an ongoing and distributed process of orchestration. As a result, we encourage designers to deal with such uncertainties as a fundamental characteristic of location-based experiences rather than treating them as exceptions or bugs that might be ironed out in the future. We argue that designers should explicitly consider four potential states of being of a mobile participant – connected and tracked, connected but not tracked, tracked but not connected, and neither connected nor tracked. We then introduce five strategies that might be used to deal with uncertainty in these different states for different kinds of participant: remove it, hide it, manage it, reveal it and exploit it. Finally, we present proposals for new orchestration interfaces that reveal the ‘seams’ in the underlying technical infrastructure by visualizing the recent performance of GPS and WiFi and predicting the likely future performance of GPS.

Why do I blog this? It think that this paper should be considered as a seminal article about ethnographical analysis of a location-based game. Besides, after research projects like Pirates!, AR Quake and BotFighters, it's one of the most important early example in the field. It also describes interesting aspects about uncertainty arising from the use of GPS and WiFi, which is a topic we are working on with Fabien. They somehow use some quantitative indexes like packet loss intervals + periods loss; we're considering to move further by using other measures and correlate them with task performance or communication frequency/quality in CatchBob!