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Locative Gaming: The First Ten Years

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Kati London (Area/Code)
Location: Ballroom III - VI

It’s been ten years since the first geo-cache was placed. Since then, locative games have continued to change how we play, where we go, and what we think when we get there. As locative games mature and evolve, they are creating increasingly complex and engaging imaginary spaces in the real world.

10 years ago, we had to buy GPS receivers at LL Bean. Today, we download apps to GPS-enabled phones. This has changed not just who plays, but the types of experiences that open up to us. We’ll take a look back at the roots of the ideas and their practice, the trajectory over the last few years, and the directions that locative games will take in the future.

Area/Code, based in New York and London, has pioneered locative, cross-media, and alternative forms of play since its inception in 2005. Its clients and partners include EA, Nike, Nokia, Disney, Discovery, MTV, A&E, the UK Department for Transport, and the Knight Foundation. Area/Code games have included invisible spirits that chase players down the street, sharks with GPS transceivers stapled to their dorsal fins, the earliest uses of 2D barcodes in North America, and games that synchronize play with real-time TV broadcasts.

Photo of Kati London

Kati London


Kati London is Vice President at Area/Code, which creates cross-media games and entertainment. London designs and develops opportunities for interacting with others – whether that be for people and plants, residents of Gaza City and Tel-Aviv or gamers playing tag with tiger sharks in the Great Barrier Reef. Her collaborative projects have been featured in the Museum of Science & Industry, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the Design Museum of London. She frequently speaks on digital/physical hybridization.

At Area/Code, London works with clients that include the BBC, the Carnegie Institute/Girls Math and Science Project, Disney Imagineering, the United Kingdom’s Department for Transport, Nike, Discovery Channel, CBS, MTV and the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.