Cititag field study

Yanna Vogiazou, Bas Raijmakers, Erik Geelhoed, Josephine Reid, Marc Eisenstadt, (2006) Design for emergence: experiments with a mixed reality urban playground game. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, Vol.10, 1, Springer This paper reports a field study of Cititag, a wireless location-based multiplayer game, designed to enhance spontaneous social interaction and novel experiences in city environments by integrating virtual presence with physical.

The game design is pretty simple:

As a player of CitiTag, you belong to either of two teams (Reds or Greens) and you roam the city, trying to find players from the opposite team to ‘tag’. When you get close to someone from the opposite team, you get the opportunity to ‘tag’ them: an alert appears on the screen with a sound. You tap on the screen with your thumb to ‘tag’ the other person. You can also get ‘tagged’ if someone from the opposite team gets close to you and ‘tags’ you first. If this happens, you need to try and find a team member in vicinity to set you free, to ‘untag’ you.

The field study is quite interesting. The methodology used is both qualitative and quantitative with different kinds of data: - video of usage (almost a think-aloud protocol) - group interviews ("open discussions loosely structured around the main research themes: experience of gameplay, the game as part of everyday life, group cooperation and strategies, awareness of others and interaction with the device") - questionnaire (graphic rating scale questions to investigate correlations)

Some excerpts from the results that I found relevant to my work:

What was interesting in CitiTag is how participants turned the technical difficulties to their advantage (...) At least a couple of people in the Bristol trial tried to take advantage of server communication lags by teaming up in a pair: in this way they were in a more advantaged position than a lonely opponent: even if he or she tagged one of them, the other usually still had enough time to tag the opponent and then rescue the tagged team member. (...) Our players in Bristol tried to use the environment to their advantage by hiding behind obstacles when trying to approach another person. A few people also tried to stay behind a bush for some time. However, hiding is not only physical as there is another form of hiding possible in CitiTag; one participant mentioned that if you go under the bus stop you would lose GPS so you could not be tracked any more, what we have identified as hiding in the virtual world, i.e. still visible by others, but not virtually ‘there’. (...) ‘team aware’ individuals are good Cititag players, that CitiTag is a team game and that ‘group state’ awareness information is important for ‘team belongingness’ and for cooperation to emerge. (...) team awareness is significantly correlated to amusement, awareness of other people and the importance assigned to wining

Why do I blog this? First because it's a good example of "The real world as an interface". Second because the results are very interesting to my research. About amusement connected to awareness of others: interesting because there is a similar result in CatchBob! (even though I haven't really dig into this)Finally, the discussion about "the mixed reality challenge: a mismatch between overlayed virtual reality and what users expect to see in the real world" is very relevant:

participants were frustrated by the fact that they would see people really close to them and expect game events to come up on screen (i.e. ‘tag’ ‘untag’ the other player), but there would be nothing new displayed or the events would come up with a delay. So the game did not correspond to the immediate environment as promptly as they would have expected. This was due to GPS errors and wi-fi loss and we believe that it is a typical and significant problem for mixed reality experiences. (...) Once we have provided a link between an overlayed reality and the real world, people expect to see the connection between the two. If what they see with their own eyes is not reflected in their device with a relevant timely alert, their expectation is not satisfied and this decreases enjoyment and hampers the game experience.

There is a lot more to draw from this paper but I just stretched few issues related to my work