From Ludocity
Revision as of 10:01, 24 August 2010 by Kevan (talk | contribs) (adding an image)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Latitude Phone.jpg
Designer: Gwyn Morfey
Year: unknown
Players: 3-5
Stuff required: Smartphones
Crew required: None
Preparation: Ten minutes.
Time required: Half an hour
Place required: A complex outdoor space, like a city.
Activities: Sneaking, running.
This is an untested game. Its rules are written, but it hasn't been tested out yet.
This game is made available under an Attribution-Noncommercial Creative Commons licence. (What does this mean?)

A game of escape using GPS tracking.


Configure the phones so that everyone can see everyone else's location, and the game boundary, on a map. Notes on this are below.

Divide the players into Robbers (one, perhaps two) and Cops (everyone else).

Allow the everyone a few minutes to position themselves in the space (with the phones off). The robber should leave first, while the cops aren't looking.

Start the game.


The robber wins by evading capture until time expires. The cops win by touching the robber, or by forcing him to leave the game area.

The robber cannot leave GPS coverage (ie go indoors) for more than 30 seconds at a time. The phone's screen shows if it has a GPS lock; he'll also be observed to disappear from the cops' screens.


Raw speed won't help the robber; he's trapped inside a play area that's too small to run for the whole half an hour.

He can't just hide for the whole 30 minutes, either, since GPS will give him away. This isn't hide and seek.

But he can see when the cops are getting close, and move again. This will probably mean passing through a closing net over and over again, which is the key mechanic. Running will obviously give him away; the cops probably don't know exactly what he looks like (players are bad at quickly memorising faces), so he'll need to blend into the crowd. He can duck into cafes for 30 seconds to temporarily 'disappear', or perhaps to come out the back entrance.

The cops have some sneaky tricks too: they don't have the restriction about leaving GPS coverage, so they can set up ambushes in tunnels and buildings. Since they're probably slower than the robber (I'd expect the fittest player to volunteer for the hardest role), they need to work together.


Google Maps runs on nearly everything, and has a feature ('Latitude') that shows you where your 'friends' are. I haven't tested how frequently it updates, or whether it tends to go into power-saving mode. It doesn't use much data, but we would still have to recommend that players have an 'unlimited data' plan.

There are other java mobile applications that perform a similar function.


I originally started with a related game ("Vector"):

One or two cops stay behind at "command control", an internet cafe. They can see the location of the robber only. The street players cannot see anything on their screens. However, all players are wearing headsets, and they are all on the _same_ conference call for the duration of the game. Command Control needs to guide the cops in, while not giving away their location to the robber. The cops may leave and return to Command Control whenever they want, which allows them to sacrifice street time for strategising in private.

I think this is a better game, but it's expensive: 'free' conferencing services use 0844 numbers which cost between 10p and 50p a minute to call from mobiles (and nobody will say for sure, which makes it risky). The best option I've got so far is to have Command Control use Skype to call all the mobiles and conference them in, but this costs 17p per minute per mobile, or about £4 per player for a 20 minute game.

I'd like to use CB radios, but nobody owns them and I don't think they have the range.

Three Mobile provides free prepaid sims that allow you to run skype on your mobile and call other skype users for free. I haven't tested this yet. If it works and conferencing is possible, this solves the problem (but people will need to bring unlocked phones).


Fire Hazard will run a playtest of this game as soon as it's ready, possibly on a weekday lunchtime at Exmouth Market (near Farringdon).