Research Topic

Serious Location-based Games

About this Research Topic

Mobile devices and mobile internet have led to location-based apps emerging in the last years. Location-based apps evaluate the current position of the hosting mobile device such as a smartphone or a tablet for displaying and visualizing position-specific information or for enabling interactions. Representatives of location-based apps, which first attracted significant attention from the public, were game apps (e.g., Ingress and Pokémon GO). While these games have the primary goal of entertainment, they are also well suited for achieving secondary goals, such as learning, and can thereby also be considered Serious Location-based Games (SLGs). From a didactical perspective, SLGs aiming at learning provide a number of characteristics that make their use as learning tools very appealing: SLGs guide learners to a real object’s location and supplement these objects explicitly or implicitly with information to be learned.

The contiguity principle is one of the principles of the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning and states that learning effects are reinforced by the temporal and/or spatial combination of object and information. Further principles of multimedia learning, such as signaling (i.e., the insertion of additional clues), might easily be provided through SLGs. Additionally, SLGs may also serve as social interaction triggers for collaborative learning settings, such as the joint development of learning content in groups or for making decisions and achieving goals as a team. Overall, SLGs are to be seen as a promising learning tool, upon whose establishment further efforts should be made.

In this article collection, we would like to foster a discourse about the specific contexts in which SLGs could be the most valuable learning tools, based on the debate of mobile and context-based learning. In particular, those principles from the perspective of learning psychology and didactics, which are based in specific on the location context, are to be addressed. Further, design guidelines might by outlined that ensure a balance between educational purpose and technical content when developing and applying SLGs. Also, inclusive design plays a key role in enabling users with disabilities to location-based gaming experiences. The technical environment, such as the possible provision of hardware by the learners, the need for mobile internet and the continuous technical development may also be reviewed with regard to the organizational requirements of education.

Topics of interest regarding Serious Location-based Games (SLGs) include, but are not limited to:

• Design frameworks for SLGs
• Lessons learnt / case studies from SLG application
• Reuse of entertainment location-based games in serious application contexts
• Characterization of SLG application contexts
• Characterization of SLG applications
• Design of inclusive SLGs
• Guidelines for the design of didactic scenarios using SLGs
• Assessment of didactic scenarios using SLGs and integration into existing learning curricula and learning infrastructure
• Case studies of SLG specific application fields, such as urban planning
• Content generation for SLGs
• Analyses of location-based game mechanics and their transfer to SLGs
• Technical infrastructure required for SLGs
• Multi-learner scenarios and their interaction rules
• Learning patterns in SLG-driven social contexts
• Ethical issues of SLGs
• SLGs and embodiments
• SLGs and multimedia learning design principles


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Mobile devices and mobile internet have led to location-based apps emerging in the last years. Location-based apps evaluate the current position of the hosting mobile device such as a smartphone or a tablet for displaying and visualizing position-specific information or for enabling interactions. Representatives of location-based apps, which first attracted significant attention from the public, were game apps (e.g., Ingress and Pokémon GO). While these games have the primary goal of entertainment, they are also well suited for achieving secondary goals, such as learning, and can thereby also be considered Serious Location-based Games (SLGs). From a didactical perspective, SLGs aiming at learning provide a number of characteristics that make their use as learning tools very appealing: SLGs guide learners to a real object’s location and supplement these objects explicitly or implicitly with information to be learned.

The contiguity principle is one of the principles of the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning and states that learning effects are reinforced by the temporal and/or spatial combination of object and information. Further principles of multimedia learning, such as signaling (i.e., the insertion of additional clues), might easily be provided through SLGs. Additionally, SLGs may also serve as social interaction triggers for collaborative learning settings, such as the joint development of learning content in groups or for making decisions and achieving goals as a team. Overall, SLGs are to be seen as a promising learning tool, upon whose establishment further efforts should be made.

In this article collection, we would like to foster a discourse about the specific contexts in which SLGs could be the most valuable learning tools, based on the debate of mobile and context-based learning. In particular, those principles from the perspective of learning psychology and didactics, which are based in specific on the location context, are to be addressed. Further, design guidelines might by outlined that ensure a balance between educational purpose and technical content when developing and applying SLGs. Also, inclusive design plays a key role in enabling users with disabilities to location-based gaming experiences. The technical environment, such as the possible provision of hardware by the learners, the need for mobile internet and the continuous technical development may also be reviewed with regard to the organizational requirements of education.

Topics of interest regarding Serious Location-based Games (SLGs) include, but are not limited to:

• Design frameworks for SLGs
• Lessons learnt / case studies from SLG application
• Reuse of entertainment location-based games in serious application contexts
• Characterization of SLG application contexts
• Characterization of SLG applications
• Design of inclusive SLGs
• Guidelines for the design of didactic scenarios using SLGs
• Assessment of didactic scenarios using SLGs and integration into existing learning curricula and learning infrastructure
• Case studies of SLG specific application fields, such as urban planning
• Content generation for SLGs
• Analyses of location-based game mechanics and their transfer to SLGs
• Technical infrastructure required for SLGs
• Multi-learner scenarios and their interaction rules
• Learning patterns in SLG-driven social contexts
• Ethical issues of SLGs
• SLGs and embodiments
• SLGs and multimedia learning design principles


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

28 February 2021 Abstract
31 March 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

28 February 2021 Abstract
31 March 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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