Future of Mobile Tagging: Mobile Arcade

Future of Mobile Tagging: Mobile Arcade

In this extract from PSFK's latest report, we describe how mobile tags can be used to create playful experiences that fuse the physical with the digital

Nate Graham
  • 10 january 2011

Mobile tags are being used as a platform to initiate social games and group-based challenges. Tags that are tied to one another can be spread across physical and digital spaces to encourage discovery and playful experiences.


  • Team and group affiliations can be facilitated through the use of mobile tags, giving people the option to scan different mobile tags to show their support for groups and brands.
  • Promotions can deliver an incentive to drive people to particular locations and bring them together for shared experiences.
  • Tags can be used to turn the phone into a console, launching experiences that use a smartphone’s camera to react to the physical world.

Supporting Examples for Mobile Arcade

Team-Based Mobile Game Encourages Campus Interactions

A student team at Boulder Digital Works, the creative technology program of the University of Colorado at Boulder, developed the on-campus game Zombies vs. Hippies through the use of posters embedded with a Microsoft Tag. By scanning different posters, participants were entered into various group missions and hunts that took place on campus between groups of students, guided by instructions delivered through each tag. By completing missions for their team, participants added to their team’s overall score.

Accelerometer-Based iPhone Game Against Other Players

Pirata is a multi-player, augmented reality boat racing game that uses iPhones as controllers. When standing in front of a computer screen loaded with the game’s website, each player is able to choose a side by scanning one of two tags. Once enough players sign up for a team, the players compete by making a rowing motion with their phone and propelling their boat forward.

Location-Based Game Through Central Park

To promote New York City parks during Arbor Day weekend, Agency Magma devised a game played using mobile tags scattered throughout Central Park. Participants moved along a map to various points in the park where they could scan QR codes to learn more about the immediate area. This information came in the form of a trivia-based game, where players were able to move along different paths as a strategy to potentially earn more points.

Riddles Encourage Exploration Through the City

Russian beverage company Red Energy staged a hunt through Moscow that led participants from one tag to another, using riddles as clues to the next location. The game began each week at a large mobile tagged billboard at one of Moscow’s central metro stations. By scanning the QR code on the advertisement, participants were sent to specific street corners and bus stops. The winner was the fastest to crack all seven clues. The game and prizes were updated each week, providing new challenges for returning players.

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