Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What are GeoGames?

So, I've finally come around and created a space for my thoughts around my GeoGames idea that came about in the summer of 2007. Actually, it's not just my idea. A whole lot of people have contributed to this so hopefully I will be able to give credits in due time.

Anyway, a good start to get an idea of what a GeoGame could be is to watch this YouTube clip with one of our prototype creations. This is a game for the Microsoft Surface platform in which each player (up to four) gets to pick territories from a map of U.S. states and then tries to take over other states in a command-and-conquer style of play. The real kicker is that we use live web services or other sources to pull in state population, gross state product, and current weather from NOAA to influence game dynamics such as number of troops and state value.

Computer Science students Patrick Losco, Kyle Hiltner, Anderson Bell, and Kevin Fast built the application under the supervision of Dr. Igor Malikman in the CS&E 762, Web-Services-Based Distributed Systems Project capstone course. I was the 'sponsor' of the project and provided the idea to the application and functional requirements; it had to be interactive, map based, relate to geography and include real information about the map areas as well as live information such as weather to take into account for the game play. The OSU Digital Union provided support and access to the surface table, software development kits, and laptops for the development.

So, hopefully this gives you an idea of what a GeoGame can be. Obviously, with all the geographic data out there you can probably think of all kinds of games that could be played like that. And that's partly what we're doing in this project, coming up with innovative way to use online maps, geodata, and players to create engaging environments for learning, fun, and serious stuff too.