Yesterday I betook myself out in the rain, along with several dozen other people, to participate in an Ingress First Saturday event at a local outdoor art museum. The purpose of the event was effectively to wander around and play competitively, and there were prizes given for the most effective players in certain aspects at the end of the event.
Ingress, and its upcoming sibling game Pokémon Go, are going to be great at getting more people outside and wandering around. Google Alphabet subsidiary Niantic has done a really good job of taking gaming—traditionally a sedentary activity—and merging it with the idea of walking around out in the open. This is great news for the legions of sedentary gamers out there—even if some of them might not think so at first.
Niantic’s done the same thing with its Field Trip app for people who’re already interested in walking around and seeing local sights but not so much into gaming.
But you know what another traditionally sedentary activity is? Reading. Instead of gamifying walking around in the open, I wonder if there might be some way to readify it? For example, what if you had to visit certain places in the real world to read the next chapter of a story on your mobile device? Instead of simply scoring points, visiting different spots like libraries or museums could unlock new e-books to read.
But I’m not so sure a simple idea would fly. People who want to read already have plenty of books they can read without going outside and getting exercise. There would have to be some other incentive, too—perhaps combining a game with the reading aspect. Ingress has an ongoing meta-plot which can be influenced by real-world game events, but I pay almost no attention to that and continue to enjoy the game just fine. But for some kind of reading-based geolocation game, the story would have to be much more important.
The social and geolocation aspects of this sort of gaming make a great tool to pry potatoes loose from their couches, but I’m not sure what could be done to lure readers outdoors in the same way. But perhaps someone at Niantic or some other such company could figure it out.