The Target

Played location based game The Target in Utrecht last sunday. And the news is, it is a real location based game, it works and it is fun.

The Target is played with 4 nokias with gps. Each nokia is manned with a team of 2 or 3 players. One team is the target, the others are agents hunting for it. To win the target has to collect one million by stealing money at several predefined locations over town. The agents have to catch the target to prevent it.

The game designers did a nice job keeping the game very simple yet fun. The players have a shoot button with which they can kill the enemy when within a certain range. Further, they can collect several types of items (e.g. knife, lorry, ladder) which are placed on several spots over town. With those items they can robe money at other locations. But for each robbery a different combination of items is needed. When the target takes an item the agents get a message stating which item was taken. But because every item can be found at a number of different locations it leaves a number of alternatives. In practice the agents spend a lot of time guessing where the target is, what he is up too, and which items he will go for next. At some interval the agent and target also get the know the exact position of their opponents.

The good things about this game are:
– Simple user interface. The user controls the game mostly through the way they move over town. You can make choices by walking to specific location on the map, with little need for buttons.
– The playing area is a fixed square in the center of town. This is represented with a fixed map on the Nokia. Although you can zoom into each of the 16 parts of the map this is not really necessary. This keeps it simple.
– Partial information about what is going on. The concept of the items needed for a robbery is great. It leaves enough room for guessing and enough information to make a fair guess.
– You rent the game for 2 hours actual playing. The game keeps track of the time so it only measure actual playing time and you do not have to worry about when to bring it back.

Not so good:
– It is basically a running game. Real fast runners will do best. I can imagine that for some people this is too demanding. You need players with a sports mentality. We happened to have a number of those in our group but even for them it took some effort to get into sports mode on a cold day walking around in heavy clothing. I would love to play this game again on a sunny day dressed in my running outfit.
– When an agent is far removed from the target the game is not so interesting anymore. It becomes harder to motivate oneself for running. Maybe the agent should have some alternative things to do in those cases.

The Target

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