Pervasive games are games that are played in the real world – they are not played as a computerized simulation or on a limited physical game arena. The central attraction for pervasive games is that they offer the pleasure of doing things for real. The world is a vast and infinitely changing resource of content for pervasive games.
Interference is a pervasive game playable by groups of 6-8 players lasting for a total of 3-4 hours and using both technology(such as GPS positioning and augmented reality) and human actors to create the full experience. In this paper, we describe the design goals for Interference and how these permeate through all aspects of the design of the game to create a coherent experience.
Interference shows how an emotionally complex game experience can be achieved without resorting to ambiguity or deep role playing. The game has so far been staged on seven occasions and we briefly report on the experiences from those stagings.
The Interference design relies on a careful balance of a multitude of design elements, ranging from aesthetic considerations, choice of location, storyline, gameplay design, and the design and use of technology in the game. When the players arrive to the game, they are invited to a rather gamist game. The game structure and subsequent revelations of the background story will then invite them to engage more and more in the game world and story.
In providing players with strong metaphors, clearly defined game mechanics and a consistent aesthetic, game complexity and immersion are progressively incremented. The use of interesting real world locations and real-world actors contributed the most to this effect. At the same time, the Interference players always felt that they were part of a game – interference is engaging without being ambiguous about its gameness.
Download Pervasive Play, Immersion and Story: designing Interference (pdf) for more.