Kevin Slavin on big games and location-based applications

(Via Fab), this Where2.0 2005 talk by Kevin Slavin (Area Code) is full of great insights about urban gaming ("big games"), and the user's apprehension of location-based technologies. There actually three aspects that I've found relevant to my research (excerpts are very basic transcriptions of the podcast).

First, Slavin explained how places where space + story

places need stories to look real. Big games: to make the most real and most fake stories they are large scale multiplayer real world games, things that transform the space around space in a game space basically a layer of fiction added on the spatial environment games with computers in them rather than the other way around

Second, from the user experience point of view, it's interesting to see how they evaluate when one their game is successful:

we also measured success because people started to cheat (when people screw things, that proves you're on the right track). the way we're going to misuse technologies are perhaps the most valuable way that we use them

And third, Mr. Slavin has a very relevant take on location (in the context of location-aware applications such as most of the big games):

location is not just GIS data, whether we're indoor/outdoor, whether the phone can hear you're on busy street or not... and build games that draw on that

it may not have been about location but maybe what's more valuable is dislocation: the most valuable experiences may have to do with disinformation, it might be more interesting/valuable for people to get lost than to know where they're going, to forget where where they are maybe the goal here is not emulate the PSP but rather to know what' different from a PSP and do that and instead of doing reportage, let's make it up, there's something else there, it's much more about misrepresentation and accuracy we're working on a often wrong version of "here"

I fully agree with this approach, which kind of resonate with the discourse I am building in my PhD dissertation: location is definitely more than what is implied by a dot on a map or x/y coordinates. Where Slavin advocates for expanding the notion of location (for example: to get lost or to forget where one is), my work is more about how the distinction between automated location-awareness and the explicit disclosure by the users. In both cases, these elements ponder the overemphasis lots of people put in location-based applications (especially buddy-tracking or place-tagging) Why do I blog this? I am currently in the process of finding the right angle for my talk at Geoware ("The user experience of location-awareness"). This is definitely food for thoughts for next upcoming writings/talks about how to go beyond current location-based applications.