The map as playground: Location-based games as cartographical practices

This article examines how maps in location-based mobile games are used as surfaces on which players can inscribe their whereabouts and other local information while being on the move. Using different examples of location-based games (LBGs) to which the map is central, our main argument is that such cartographical LBGs foreground the fluidity of mapping and emphasize the performative aspects of playing with maps. As such, we wish to move away from a conception of maps as representational texts and will show that it is far more productive to approach such cartographical games as processual and navigational practices. Instead of conceiving maps in such games as ‘mimetic interfaces’ (Juul, 2009), they should therefore be approached as what we will call navigational interfaces. To understand them as such, we will combine perspectives from game studies with non-representational understandings of maps as technological and spatial practices as developed in human geography and science and technology studies. By doing so, we wish to instigate a productive interdisciplinary debate about the relation between play and mapping as to deepen our understanding of LBGs as cultural cartographical practices. © The Author(s) 2016.

This article examines how maps in location-based mobile games are used as surfaces on which players can inscribe their whereabouts and other local information while being on the move. Using different examples of location-based games (LBGs) to which the map is central, our main argument is that such cartographical LBGs foreground the fluidity of mapping and emphasize the performative aspects of playing with maps. As such, we wish to move away from a conception of maps as representational texts and will show that it is far more productive to approach such cartographical games as processual and navigational practices. Instead of conceiving maps in such games as ‘mimetic interfaces’ (Juul, 2009), they should therefore be approached as what we will call navigational interfaces. To understand them as such, we will combine perspectives from game studies with non-representational understandings of maps as technological and spatial practices as developed in human geography and science and technology studies. By doing so, we wish to instigate a productive interdisciplinary debate about the relation between play and mapping as to deepen our understanding of LBGs as cultural cartographical practices. © The Author(s) 2016.

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