Urban Gaming

Turning cities into playgrounds.

Modern urban gaming seems to bring together our love for architecture, design and creative technology with our passion for play and collaboration. It offers the potential to creatively explore physical territories as the domain of the digital, facilitating interaction with our real world environment in a playful, yet sophisticated way.

Of course, gamers and urban explorers are nothing new (arcades and skateboards go back quite a few decades!) but this new type of game play reaches beyond typical gaming circles, exploiting the inherently social aspect of our modern, digital habits to appeal to a wider audience and facilitate collaboration and casual game play amongst different groups.

Game designers and events companies are finding increasingly interesting ways to turn cities (and the world beyond) into giant playgrounds, bringing new meaning to our urban environments, and changing the way we interact with them (and each other) in a positive way.

The great thing about urban games of the past few years is that they take on many different incarnations and functions. From tech-free, urban runarounds such as 2.8 Hours Later, to tech-led, treasure hunt craze Geocaching, urban gaming manages to occupy and move between virtual and real world environments with ease.

“Urban gaming offers us a way of restoring the physical to our digital experiences.”

Game design studio Hide and Seek explore this duality brilliantly, creating games for all manner of users. Tiny Games, for instance, is a fantastic example of how quick and simple interactive urban gaming can be, whereas The Building Is... explores a more elaborate and sophisticated mode of playful interaction.

The evolution of urban gaming offers us a way of restoring the physical to our digital experiences, reigniting social interactions in a playful and often beautiful way. Next time you're out and about, keep your eyes open - you never know what game might be there just waiting to be played!


Michelle Collier

Date published

02 February 2014