Face of Christoph Will

Christoph Will

Diploma Thesis Student

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Supervisor: Gero Herkenrath
My diploma thesis is "A Pattern Language for Designing Location-Based Games".


Over the last two decades, video games became increasingly mobile. However, so far very few of those mobile games use the full advantages of being "pervasive", i.e. played in the physical world. Almost none use the GPS-receiver present in many mobile devices to incorporate the location they are being played at into their gameplay.

While commercial video game developers so far have shown little interest in such location-based games, there is a wealth of location-based games created for research purposes. The case studies of these games provide insights into what technological challenges await developers in this area, but also contain information about the game design process and the decisions made by the designers behind the games. Additionally, the live-action role-playing community and researchers studying such pervasive role-playing games provide many insights into their design decisions.

The long established tool of design patterns has already been adopted for the field of game design in the form of game design patterns. These game design patterns are primarily discovered through the process of "harvesting" them, i.e. by analyzing existing games in order to identify recurring design elements.

In this thesis, we used the approach of harvesting game design patterns to identify recurring design challenges and decisions in the process of creating location-based games. By collecting feedback from researchers with experience in the field of location-based games, we identified a key problem creating misunderstandings when talking about location-based games. Furthermore, we collected feedback for our design patterns in order to improve them iteratively.

By compiling the existing knowledge about the design of location-based games in the established format of game design patterns, we aim to provide potential developers of such games with an overview over this knowledge. Additionally, the patterns in this thesis can ease communication problems in teams designing location-based games.

In the future, we want to collaborate with developers of location-based games to increase the validity and precision of our pattern language.

About me

I was part of the design team on "Tabletop Tower Defense": http://hci.rwth-aachen.de/tabletoptowerdefence

While I contributed some animations and obviously took part in all discussions related to the interaction/game design, my main responsibilities were the combat system and its balance & (especially) user testing the game.

My minor is psychology.

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