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Make the world your playing field: Discover location-based mixed reality for your smartphone

At gamescom 2011 in Cologne, Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology FIT and TELECOM SudParis present Tidy City and Portal Hunt, two location-based outdoor games for Android smartphones.

In Tidy City, players have to solve missions involving their urban vicinity. In Portal Hunt, teams of players chase mysterious portals. Both games rely on GPS to control the interaction of the players, the virtual world of the game and the real environment. Just play the game or create one of your own! Gamescom, August 17 – 21, 2011 in Cologne, F08, booth A-018.

Tidy City map.
Photo: Fraunhofer FIT

The Tidy City game is about bringing order back to a situation that seems a little mixed up. The players use smartphones to explore their vicinity. Symbols in a map on the display direct the player to a mission, i.e. an object that must be 'tidied up' because it is shown in the wrong location. A part of a building or a bridge, a statue, but also a historical event tied to a location, might be a suitable object, represented in the game by a photo and a descriptive text. When the players believe to be right next to the object's original site, they can try to relocate the object to that location. GPS is used to check that the player is indeed in the correct position and has thus successfully completed the mission.

Portal Hunt is an augmented reality game for teams of players; they chase portals that swirl around in their vicinity. GPS and the smartphones' orientation sensors are used to determine where the players stand and in which direction they act. When the players have surrounded a portal, they can capture it.

"Tidy City and Portal Hunt are so-called mixed reality games, location-based applications that combine two different realities. The digital virtuality and the real analog reality are merged into a new mixed reality, opening up for the player exciting new opportunities to explore his or her vicinity," explains the project coordinator, Mr. Richard Wetzel, from Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology FIT.

You need no programming expertise to create new missions for Tidy City or Portal Hunt and invite others to play the games. Players need smartphones running Android 2.1 or better. Tidy City can be downloaded free of charge from, the game's website. There you will also find everything you need to create your own scenario of Tidy City. It could be built around a wide variety of ideas, e.g. a quiz for visitors to a city, which directs them, in a playful style, to the city's prominent sights. A special version of Tidy City might also be created for a trade fair or other large-scale events, reflecting their specific themes. To support this, we are developing WLAN positioning capability for Tidy City.

At gamescom we also present the first version of an authoring system for location-based mixed reality games. The web-based application cooperates closely with a mobile scouting software that game designers can use to explore the site of their future game and to collect ideas and information for the game.

In the development of the location-based mixed reality games and the authoring system, Fraunhofer FIT collaborates with the French Carnot institute Telecom & Manage¬ment SudParis. The work is part of the TOTEM project on theories and tools for distributed authoring of mobile mixed reality games, which is funded by the German BMBF and the French ANR ( Tidy City was conceived by the game designer Mr. Michael Straeubig (i3games).

Meet Fraunhofer FIT and TELECOM SudParis at gamescom,
August 17 – 21, 2011 in Cologne, outdoor area F08, booth A-018.
Alex Deeg
Phone +49 2241 14-2208

Alex Deeg | Fraunhofer-Institut
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