Location Based Storytelling

Posted by on Dec 5, 2013 in Storytelling
Location Based Storytelling


What is Location Based Storytelling?

  • media format closely tied to real world locations using GPS DATA and MAPS to guide through the experience while interacting with the user and his/her position
  • requires a technical devices ( Smartphone, Tablets, … )
  • needs an active gamer/ user with a strong lean- forward approach ( physical movement in the real world is essential )

Pattern of Location based storytelling(Storymooc 2013 University of Applied Sciences Potsdam)


e.g. Secret City – a Location Based Game ( by Game Designer Michael Sträuber )

Story is about helping an old friend called Max out and getting thus  into a conspiracy.


  • adapts the principles of adventure games into the city as a playing field
  • position of the user/ player as an input to the game
  • the fictional characters are integrated in real world places  via augmented reality ( additional layer on the camera image once entering a certain proximity to the programmed GPS data )


  • Inciting incident / Call to Adventure  – Max needs our help
  • Point of no return – Max’s flat where we learn that he’s missing
  • Object of desire – to find Max
  • Herold & Guardian – the supportive detective

Game Mechanics:

  • like classic adventure game
  • available dialog choices – right answer unfolds the story
  • items are rewards  – by finding the right locations and point the camera at the right spot
  • inventory to keep the items for a later use



Basically, it’s an extended reality in which the live, direct or indirect, view of the physical real world is supplemented by computer generated content ( e.g. graphics, sound, video, … ).

E.g. The Artvertiser by Julian Olivier, Damian Stewart and Arturo Castro


Wikitude, an augmented reality software by Wikitude GmbH


Ingress, an augmented reality MMOG


Sight, a futuristic short film about augmented reality


Where does Location Based Storytelling come from?

Although the evolution of mobile and GPS devices  are directly linked to the evolution of  Location Based Storytelling/ Games, its principles are not new


  • using GPS data and media devices in the real environment to locate the hidden treasures/caches, which can be linked to a narrative

Scavenger hunt

  • childrens’ outdoor activity
  • follow hints, maps and riddles to find their way from one place to another to a hidden treasure at some secret place

Other Milesstones


How to create a Location Based Game/ Storytelling?

site specific problems:

  • can just be told at one place
  • reduces the amount of available players

challenge – put fictional content into a non fictional world

General problems:

  • weather conditions
  • length of story
  • not permanent level design – environment can change over time
  • developing for different devices

Rule giving foundation / structure of adventure games:

  • Keep it simple – find a good balance between innovative and well-knwon story structures and the technologies used within