Reflective Practice: Lessons Learnt by Using Board Games as a Design Tool for Location-Based Games

  • Catherine JonesEmail author
  • Konstantinos Papangelis
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography book series (LNGC)


Location-based gaming (LBG) apps present many challenges to the design process. They have very different requirements compared to games that are aspatial in nature. They take place in the wild and this brings unique challenges to the practicalities of their design. There is a need to balance the core game play with the spatial requirements of location-aware technologies as well as considering the overall theme and objectives of the game together with the motivations and behaviours of players. We reflect upon this balancing act and explore an approach to creative paper prototyping through the medium of board games to co-design LBG requirements. We examine two case studies of location-based games with different goals. The first case study discusses the CrossCult Pilot 4 app built to trigger reflection on historical stories through thoughtful play. Whilst the second case study uses the City Conquerer app designed and played in Suzhou, China with a view to exploring notions of territoriality. The paper considers how spatial, social and interaction metaphors are used to simulate location-based games in a board game and discusses the lessons learned when transforming the paper game into a digital prototype. It forms part of a thinking by doing approach. By comparing the board games to the technical counterparts, we consider how effective are the features and activities implemented in the technology prototypes. We propose a set of 11 design constraints that developers must be mindful of when transitioning from paper to digital prototypes.


Location-based games Design Prototypes Board games Game design Urban games Smart cities Playable cities 



The CrossCult ( project Pilot 4 application was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no 693150.

Dr. Konstantinos Papangelis contributions have been supported through Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University’s RDF-15-02-17 programme.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and Spatial PlanningUniversity of LuxembourgLuxembourg CityLuxembourg
  2. 2.Department of Computer Science and Software EngineeringXi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool UniversitySuzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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