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Gaming With GPS On Your Smartphone

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the getting-lost-despite-two-meter-precision dept.

Cellphones 43

Barence writes "If your handset doesn't get you out and about, tramping through mud, climbing around and hunting for hidden treasure, then something needs an upgrade. The iPhone, Blackberry's Storm and Bold lines, and many Symbian and Android handsets, now sport GPS, which makes your smartphone the ticket to join a global movement of outdoor games. These are outbound challenges that pit teams and solo players against themselves and each other in the search for hidden treasure, undiscovered landmarks, and hidden spots all over the world. This article delves into several of the best smartphone-friendly real-world games, each of which is a bridge between the online and offline worlds."

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You mean 4 things.... (2, Informative)

rat7307 (218353) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295368)

Travel bugs are a part of Geocaching, not some separate game. (To be even more specific, travel bugs are a part of's version of geocaching.....)

Love geocaching, not too sure about geodashing though, it's a bit too random for me!

Constipation (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31295478)

The day after thanksgiving I was so constipated. After about 4 days without being able to take a shit I decided to force it out. I pushed really hard and eventually I started to hear a dripping into the toilet, almost got it, I thought, and gave it one more big push. Kaaa splooosh! It felt so good to come out. when I started to wipe I noticed that my hand was covered with blood. I quickly jumped up to see a pile of bloody intestines trailing there way back to my ripped open bloody asshole. "Oh God! I can't believe this is happening to me," I yelled, grabbing my intestines out of the toilet and trying to push them back into my ass. I was so disgusted by the whole experience that I puked all over myself and passed out. My dog found me later that day and ate most of the intestines that were outside of my body. How did I survive you ask? Well, God works in mysterious ways... God works in mysterious ways.

Re:Constipation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31297384)

Of all the damn trolls, this post is just ridiculous. And I'm just stoned enough to sit here, read that, and laugh. Damn you! You need to die.

GPS is old! (2, Informative)

Mad Merlin (837387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295382)

Phones with GPS are by no means a new phenomenon at all. Even the RAZR has GPS, and it's rapidly approaching 6 years old now.

Re:GPS is old! (1)

ischorr (657205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295692)

Nobody said it was brand new (although I think it'd be a pretty big stretch to call the RAZR a "smartphone"...Certainly by today's standards) However, the point is that a much, much larger number of people now have smartphones (phones able to run fairly sophisticated apps) with GPS in them. It's not new, just more common. I agree with Geocaching, BTW. I love that game (sport?). I just did one today while the wife and I were out on a hike.

Re:GPS is old! (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31297466)

although I think it'd be a pretty big stretch to call the RAZR a "smartphone"...Certainly by today's standards

That makes no sense. No smartphone of the past, even the best on the market of the time, would be a smartphone by "today's standards". The original Iphone certainly wouldn't either, for example.

And anyhow, if it isn't a smartphone, that just proves the point even more - if even years old non-smartphones had GPS, there's certainly nothing special about a modern high end smartphone having it.

smartphones (phones able to run fairly sophisticated apps)

The RAZR could run "apps". Phones running software has been standard on bog standard phones since 2005 or earlier. Of course you've qualified it with "fairly sophisicated", but that's a completely ill-defined way to distinguish them. Obviously as time goes on, all phones become more sophisticated in terms of what they can run.

I see no evidence that more people have smartphones today - people are still buying in the low end of the market too. Of course, more people have more advanced phones, but that's because of progress, and not necessarily that people are buying in a different market, or spending more money on them.

Re:GPS is old! (1)

SpooForBrains (771537) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296248)

Utter nonsense. The RAZR certainly didn't launch with GPS, and if it has it now, it is an addition to one of the very recent models.

Re:GPS is old! (1)

Mad Merlin (837387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31300318)

My RAZR is from 2006, and it has GPS. As far as I know, it's one of the original models. Go into Settings -> Location and you'll see that you can turn GPS on and off.

Re:GPS is old! (2, Informative)

dfm3 (830843) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296390)

GPS is nothing new in phones, but sadly end-user access to GPS functionality is still being hindered by many phone manufacturers. My current phone ( a G'zOne [] ) has a GPS receiver, but it's only useful for E911 purposes unless I buy an extra subscription for some sort of mapping service. Even then I still couldn't use the phone as a basic GPS receiver due to software limitations.

Re:GPS is old! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31297174)

Huh? And the Internet as we know it, is, what, about 20 years old now?

Re:GPS is old! (1)

Tempsi (1657783) | more than 4 years ago | (#31300684)

Benefon ESC! had GPS and maps in 2001. []

Re:GPS is old! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31304272)

Got a pretty old model back in 2003 as a graduation present. It was the last black and white unit that we could still see advertised by brand LG here in the US, and likely it was designed 2 years earlier. It too had GPS abilities, unlike even older Motorola Startac phones.

Anyway, I remember disabling the GPS-based advertising mode, and that laws for E911 were just coming into effect back then, and my phone supported the feature. Details and facts are a bit hazy. I just hated knowing that GPS details were available to law enforcement, my carrier and NOT me, the person paying for service. At least smartphones give me maps today, but many still hide the feature or just charge for it. I'm looking at Verizon.

Dangerous (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31295394)

Sending nerds out into the woods... I smell several lawsuits coming.

-No, you cannot use your feather cloak to jump of this cliff.
-No, you cannot use your underwater breathing skill to cross this river.
-No, that's a real bear. Run!

Re:Dangerous (2, Funny)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296004)

While I do agree that not all games have physics models that allow flight and underwater breathing, I'm pretty sure my twitch skills will allow me to take on even the scariest mobs.

Real life Zork (4, Funny)

tangent3 (449222) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295418)

If camera is all dark and GPS is not receiving any signal, player is eaten by the Grue.

Re:Real life Zork (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31295880)

Neat sig ... except the syntax is far too correct. :-p

Game #6: Geoshagging (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31295458)

Play or be played, I liked the name but must defer credit to the OP at Urban Dictionary.
Residents of their mom's basement need not apply.

EDIT: captcha on submit was "mating" LOL

Boring list (1)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295476)

All of these can be done with just GPS coordinates and devices. I was expecting something more creative.

Re:Boring list (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31295496)

Same here, I think there was one ommission... geoshagging.

Hello, my name is Al Gore...... (1)

Slugster (635830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295926)

A long time ago on a game programming forum I came up with the idea of a game I called "car wars". At the time, hand-held GPS units were just becoming commonly available (though still rather expensive) and you could hook a cellphone and a GPS unit to laptops. I couldn't afford to try it, and neither could anyone else.

The idea was that this would be a sort of server-based Atari "Battle Zone" game, but played in your car. The PC would show a real-time radar map, and your car on it. You would have to visit random points to pick up "ammo", and then get near opposing players' cars to "shoot". The use of the computer would allow artificial conditions to be provided--such as power-ups that would temporarily extend your ammo supply, the ammo range, "radar-proof" your car to opposing players, or temporarily reveal their locations to you. There could be "clouds" that would drift across the radar screen, hiding players from each other. They might be driving down the same roads, perhaps even within sight of each other--but wouldn't recognize each other by sight, only by the radar screen.

The whole point of this was to introduce a new computer/online game style that was location-based--basically, you could actually meet the people IRL that you played with. Of course using cars, there would be a tendency to speed, but a game now could detect that and award penalties for doing so. The use of cars at all is somewhat hazardous, but GPS isn't accurate enough on any scale small enough to be useful on foot. The game (as I imagined it) would be played city-wide...... Somebody else will have to take the torch however. I'm no longer interested in driving around the city in circles, and I even have a pocket-PC phone with GPS and net access.
Oh well.

In the last couple years I think we've already seen something like this done...... I seem to remember a guy who made a GPS "Pac-Man" style game, where you had VR goggles and had to run around outside to play it....

Please Rob Me (3, Insightful)

naz404 (1282810) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295564)

I love that GPS game where people broadcast to the entire web on Foursquare/Twitter that they're not home so you rob their houses blind! :D []

Re:Please Rob Me (2, Interesting)

ChiRaven (800537) | more than 4 years ago | (#31297538)

On the other hand, my home security system has a real-time camera that will send pictures to my cell phone (or to my security company, if I choose) if anybody DOES try to break into my house while I'm gone. And yes, it DOES have substantial battery backup AND its own cell phone link, so cutting the wires to my house will NOT help the burglars one bit. Technology giveth as well as taketh away.

Re:Please Rob Me (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#31300584)

I love the game where you blather about your brand new *expensivewidget* you will be missing while you are out, post false GPS coordinates showing you in another state, and then wait in your living room closet with a weapon and a video camera.

N5800 (2, Interesting)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295608)

Nokia has published ovi maps racing, which is essentially micro machines in real world. Really fun game, you essentially create tracks based on real world maps stored on your phone, and can race on them. Brings a whole new level of fun to make a track around your neighbourhood and share it with friends. Real killer app for nokia and GPS has been their sports tracker though, which isn't a game. Sadly it became a pay application after its enourmous success as a free one.

Re:N5800 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31295628)

Wait a sec.. is Sports Tracker even avilable for 5800 (express music, not N) ??

Re:N5800 (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 4 years ago | (#31297392)

As a pre-release test version, yes, it worked on n5800. I'm not sure if it was made for n5800 per se, but I used it until nokia maps v2 updated to v3 and apparently became incompatible with that version of sports tracker, which killed the application for me.

Geeks will finally rule the planet (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31295980)

Mwahahhaha I will hide lonts of stuff.

End privacy rights! (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296196)

In practice, most citizens, with a right to privacy most of the time, don't have it. Most government, and some corporate employees, who should be accountable to many people and don't always have as many rights to privacy, can afford to get it somehow. Most of us simply can't afford the costs of real privacy - having a staff to do non-tracked purchases, watch your house or company, fully secure your cell, gps, blackberry, web and desktop uses, encrypt your every transmission, get anonymous connections, etc, etc. So the end result is, actual privacy is now for corporations and government who can afford it. The rest have the phone, web actions, face images, etc tracked somewhere. It's complex -- who and where actually does a right to privacy actually exist, and not? And who gets to exercise them, rightly, and wrongly?

Lame. (2, Interesting)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296218)

I’ve tried these “games”. And while there are many out there, they are pretty lame. And GPS is way too inexact anyway. And it doesn’t work in buildings. Or between high buildings. Or in the woods. Or pretty much everywhere where it would be fun.

So it’s a lot of moving. In your everyday scenery.
Sorry, but this can’t beat alien 3D worlds and game physics.
Plus: What geek likes sports anyway? ;)

Re:Lame. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31299508)

Plus they don't have respawning worked out yet.

Re:Lame.... Not that lame anymore (1)

rod (9617) | more than 4 years ago | (#31306568)

No.... plain GPS receivers doesn't work in buildings, in the woods. But if there is data network, then things change.
The new wave in LBS is merging A-GPS with social location information and other data.
Mobile phones have A-GPS (Assisted GPS) and other technologies, like Cell ID based locations and WIFI Hotspots information. By merging all this information, "positioning systems" that are not simply GPS anymore are getting much better.
A-GPS gathers Almanaque and Ephemeris data from the network, "making a weak signal stronger".
Cell ID (from the operators' cell phone antennas, BTSs) and WIFI help in between buildings, inside places by applying algorithms using simple techniques.
By gathering this information and crossing it, right now there can be pretty good results.
I'm using a Nokia E63 WITHOUT a GPS receiver. With the help from Nokia location based servers ( , I get pretty accurate location information without a GPS.

I'm a geek. I like sports :-)

Nice list you got there (1)

mindstormpt (728974) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296260)

The iPhone, Blackberry's Storm and Bold lines, and many Symbian and Android handsets


And many/most Windows Mobile smartphones had it too, before half of these even existed. And it's not like they're at a disadvantage for "GPS games", e.g. Geocaching Live [] is only available for Java/WinMo. I know this is Slashdot, but come on...

Re:Nice list you got there (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31297492)

It's the mobile market according to Slashdot, don't you know: it consists of Apple (with apparently greater than 50% share), with the rest filled by Google, and then RIM. Windows is only mentioned to make the Iphones look better. No other company exists. Although I'm gobsmacked that they referenced Nokia for once.

What about Wherigo? (1)

dfm3 (830843) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296486)

One of the most interesting GPS games I've seen in a while is Wherigo [] , which was developed by the same folks who run (disclaimer: I'm a prominent geocacher). It's an interactive location based game that works by way of "cartridges" that can be downloaded to certain GPS receivers and smart phones. Possibilities include simple tours of parks or historic areas, interactive games that require you to visit certain spots to unlock other locations, or complex lifesize mazes or whack-a-mole style games that can be played anywhere and are often physically challenging.

Sadly the game hasn't really taken off yet, probably because of a lack of compatible devices (there is no iPhone app yet) or because of the learning curve required to create new cartridges. However, it has much untapped possibility. I've played through a few cartridges that were essentially tours of obscure but fascinating sites in city parks, and had alot of fun in the process.

Aagh! What happened to that link? (1)

dfm3 (830843) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296494)

I swear that trailing slash wasn't there when I hit preview. The actual link should be: []

Geocaching (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31296600)

My family has been geocaching for about 10 years. I've tried it about 10 times with a smartphone and found the GPS to be less than accurate enough for that use. At times, the phone GPS would tell me to head in an opposite direction from where the cache actually was located and getting within 20-50 ft was my only expectation. Well, they fail on that too.

A $120 Garmin hiking GPS that my sister uses was always more accurate. It seemed to point directly into the location and was always within 20ft of the cache. It could be that Garmin is what most GeoCachers use, so any errors are similar. I dunno.

I'm not trying to bash smartphone GPSes - mine works PERFECTLY for driving. Perhaps there are different settings when you move under 5 mph that need to be enabled to limit the drift?

Ok, I lied, I don't have a smart phone. I have a Nokia N800 with a GoPass GPT800 Bluetooth GPS Receiver SiRF Star III bluetooth GPS tethered to it. I've tethered other GPS receivers and had similar results.

Dont forget the backseat (1)

cellurl (906920) | more than 4 years ago | (#31296822)

We have a whole bunch of add on games for our Android GPS game called
Back Seat Driver

Our goal is to build smart-cars that drive themselves. Piece by piece, we will achieve this.
First speed limits
Then aftermarket self-steering (for limited roads at first)
Then auto-trains, so you can go coast-to-coast and wake up in Yellowstone!

But first, we yell at you if you speed....

speedlimits [] (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31297064)

I was expecting a list of actual phone games, not just generic GPS games. []

the great land grab is an actual game you play in teh phone and in real life on google maps by fighting over land with other players in real time.

Re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31297082)

oh, FYI, it is an Android game I play on my Droid. Really fun at first, but I think it needs more elements to keep it going. Luckily, the dev is actively adding features.

What other actual phone+gps games are there? This is a what, ARG, alternate or augmented reality game?

Gps (1)

dmays0006 (1755600) | more than 4 years ago | (#31297316)

I love GPS

Halting State? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31299408)

I recently re-read "Halting State". Interesting ideas of what could be done with cellphones and such.

I also recommend "This Is Not A Game" by Walter Jon Williams. Yet another take on gaming, LARPing and the possibilities of technology.

Didn't improve author's geo skills (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31301588)

Caption of figure 2 [] reads:

One Travel Bug has spanned from Cornwall to Scotland - via Germany

and the screenshot shows a clearly labeled map where all waypoints are in Britain or the Netherlands.

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