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Old Strathcona Business Association Game

The PlayPR research group at the University of Alberta has partnered with the Old Strathcona Business Association[1](OSBA)to build a geo-locative scavenger hunt game to be played in the Whyte Ave area in conjunction with the Return of the Magic[2] Christmas windows displays running November 26, 2011 - January 7, 2012. The OSBA is a non-profit organization that supports the local community, small business, festivals, events, and the historical area of Old Strathcona. They have contracted White Rabbit Creative Enterprises[3] to create Christmas themed window displays in the style of historical of vintage department store exhibits using antique toys and other vintage paraphernalia. This partnership provides us with a rich opportunity to create, test, and assess a game that aims to meet the need of a number of community partners, is engaging for a broad demographic, and can fulfill our research needs as a part of PlayPR. This is a time limited project that will give us an opportunity to test some questions about player motivation for geo-locative gaming as well as assessment design models when working with community partners who are outside of the university and game design communities. For this project we began iterating on a relatively unsuccessful paper-based scavenger hunt that was run in conjunction with the Christmas window displays in December 2010. The game was designed to be played using smartphones on the SCVNGR app interface in the Old Strathcona area. Challenges were spread across X businesses with some locations having multiple challenges and others only one. We based the game on the eight Christmas window display locations which had a riddle question with a text-based answer derived from the content of the windows. Other challenges were based on the level of interest and involvement of the participating businesses and ranged from finding an image of the game characters and photographing it in the stores to challenging the business owner to a game of table tennis. Players could accumulate points at their own pace and play over a series of day. Prizes donated by the participating businesses were awarded to high scoring players each week. Our assessment model focused on both community partner and player motivation and game design process rather than the functionality of the game platform. Assessment methods used in this project included journaling by the game design team, surveys administered to the community partners and business owners both before and after the game ran, and an online completion survey that was sent to everyone who played the game.

Learning Potential:

We have two main research goals for this project that will inform the development of future, more complex geolocative games in the Old Strathcona neighbourhood; assessing the process of building games with a community partner (or in this case a group of community partners), and motivational factors to get people to start playing (and continue to play) these types of social games. To meet these goals we are using three main methods of data collection

    1. We have asked the participating store owners and stakeholder at the OSBA to complete pre and post-game questionnaires about
       their expectations for the game in terms of their committment, resources required, benefit to their business, and benefit to
       the neighbourhood and how well this experience of participating in the game met these expectations. 
       We also hope to conduct interviews with participants from this group to further examine this experience after the game       
       has been retired in January 2012. The questionnaire and interview questions will be edited for our OSBA participant(s)
       because they have a different relationship to the project and resources needed than the individual store owners. 
    2. Design team members have been asked to journal their experiences designing, building, deploying, and testing this game. 
    3. We will collect anonymous game metrics through the SCVNGR interface that tracks activity at each location and throughout the
       trek in general to be accumulated and output as reports. We will also request that players participate in a voluntary online
       assessment questionnaire that will seek to determine if the game was successful in creating interest in the window 
       displays/local businesses/the Whyte Ave area and/or other aspects of the OSBA's mandate, if the game was fun, and their 
       motivations (or lack thereof) in playing the game. We also hope to collect some general demographics (age of players, if 
       they are playing as individuals, groups, or families)

Game Play:

To participate in this game players will need to download the SCVNGR app for their smartphone (available for iPhone, Android) or they can play using SMS. To play a SCVNGR trek via SMS (which the Return of the Magic game is built as), simply take that treks keyword (each trek has a unique keyword) and send it as a text message to 728647 (SCVNGR). This will work for any phone on any carrier in the United States and Canada. The keyword for our game is returnofthemagic. Players will need to download the app and create a player profile then navigate to the main menu screen and select Treks in the bottom left corner.


Most likely the only trek available will be the Return of the Magic, they will select that trek and then walk to any of the 8 locations based on the list of participating shops of the map at the bottom of the Places screen.


The Activity screen will list which locations the player has been to and which challenges they have completed.


The Info screen displays a short blurb about the trek and the current leaderboard standings.


At each window location players will have a choice of two challenges beyond the standard SCVNGR challenges (check in, social check in (with other players), say something (write something), snap a picture). The Return of the Magic trek challenges appear at the top of the list of challenges. Players will be able to answer a question based on what they can see in the window from outside, and go inside the shop and complete a challenge that requires them to find something inside the store (e.g. find one of the white rabbits from the story and take a photo of it in situ or answer a question based on something found inside the store). Each challenge will award the player a number of points. Players who accrue a certain number of points (to be decided) will be entered to win one of three large prizes that will be awarded based on a random drawing of eligible players in January 2012. We will also be awarding smaller weekly prizes based on highest weekly score, best photo, longest participation, most locations visited, etc.

In addition to the consistent challenges at each location the game will also have temporary challenge that will run during the Saturdays with Santa. These point awarding challenges will run during a defined period of time and are a way for players to earn extra points. We will also be awarding extra points for players who complete a short assessment survey. (to be determined how we can work this into the SCVNGR platform)

Players can complete all of the locations in one day or over the period of the game's run (Nov 26 - early Jan) and do not have to complete the game to participate. The most points they earn by completing more challenges will determine their chances of winning one of the grand prizes (need to determine if higher scores will = more ballots, or if we will have bigger prizes for those who earned more points in a three tiered draw i.e. 10-20 pts, 20-40 pts, 40+ pts)

Entry Points for the Game

1. Cheer bucks - paper handouts participating businesses will hand out with purchases advertising the game and linking to the ROTM website via QR code. **need to check about having points associated with cheer bucks, the only way I can think to do this now is to set up a challenge at each location that is a find QR code challenge and print those on the cheer bucks. We'd need individual QR codes for each location in that case**

2. Window signage - signs on the window displays with very brief directions and linking to ROTM info pages

3. Radio and TV advertising - arranged by Stephen at the OSBA, remember to get documentation of these advertisements for future research analysis if possible

4. Word of mouth - players referring each other, if any extant SCVNGR players pick up on the game

5. Saturdays with Santa handouts - Cheer bucks or other handouts distributed during Saturdays with Santa

6. OSBA/ROTM Website Traffic - People visiting the ROTM or OSBA websites stumble on the game introduction and directions

What else?

Game Story Narrative:

get from Shane

Questions by Location:

Modecor (The Honeytones Bear Band)

  1. mrs magpie stares thoughtfully at the sky. Music, she says, finally. with honey bears dancing, pleased as can be. 
     how many buttons on bears can you see? (2 pts) - answer: 4
  2. Have you seen Chloe?: Have you seen Chloe the white rabbit? Rumour has it she came into Modecor to visit some friends. See 
     if you can find her and take a photo to prove it! (3 pts)

Metterra Hotel (Season's Greetings)

  1. i once rode ontop of santa's sleigh, mrs magpie says, eyes brightening at memories of red flying in the snow. what's written on the side, i do not know. 
     (2 pts) - answer: S.C. or Santa Claus
  2. Say Cheese!: Create your own holiday portrait somewhere festive on the avenue and share it to earn 3 points. 

Wee Book Inn (Santa's Workshop)

  1. mrs magpie looks dreamily into santa's workshop, filled with letters of hope. Elves working hard to fill the sleigh, how many purple boats to send their way?
    (2 pts) - answer: 3
  2. There is a Bunny hiding in Wee Book Inn but it's not who you think. Meet Bunny and take their photo to earn 3 points. 

When Pigs Fly (Gnome Family Christmas)

  1. I used to visit the family of gnomes, Mrs Magpie muses. A warm home under a tree in the east. how i wish to see the three types of food for a family feast. 
    (2 pts) - answer: vegetables (mushrooms, peas, onions, carrots, brussel sprouts) pie, a roaster and bread
  2. Chance went inside to to get out of the cold. Find his hiding spot in When Pigs Fly a snap a photo to earn extra points.(3 pts)

The Tin Box (Magnificent Monkey Band)

  1. I like to watch snowflakes fall into eager hands. balls of snow rolled into a man. what are the colours on the scarf wrapped around snowman stan?
   (2 pts) - answers: red, green, black and white 
  2. It is easy for two small rabbits to get lost in this big shop. Chance and Chloe love holiday decorations, see if you can catch 
     them playing hide and seek here. (3 pts)

Little Royal Framing & Gallery (Winter Wonderland Romance)

  1. i have been a witness to so much love in the winter wonderland, says mrs magpie. i see a surprise in hand, but what colours are the box being held by the man? 
  (2 pts) - answer: yellow-orange
  2. Mrs. Magpie is an art lover, see if you can find her admiring the pictures in Little Royal Gallery and take her portrait for 3 

Avenue Appliance (The Nativity Scene)

  1. i saw the new babe sleeping in his manger throne, mrs. magpie remembers. where wise men came to lowly bow. How many animal friends share this humble home? 
  (2pts)- answer: 8 (1 ox, 1 donkey, 3 sheep, 1 bird in the nest, 2 painted camels)
  2. There is an animal who loves winter weather living at Avenue Appliance and he isn't a bunny or a magpie. Find him inside and 
     snap a photo for 3 points. 

Coney Island Candy (The Candy Land Kids)

  1. the candy store! mrs magpie says, suddenly. where eager children are always wanting more. how many jars are now empty of the sweets we so adore? answer: 7
  2. There is so much to see at Coney Island Candy and Chance and Chloe love sweets. Find them hiding by their favourite candy and 
     snap a photo to earn 3 points.

Assessment Questions for Players:

1. Did you play the SCVNGR hunt Return of the Magic game this year?

2. Did you play the game as an individual, with friends, or with family?

3. I enjoyed visiting the Whyte Ave area. (strongly agree, agree, neither agree nor disagree, disagree, strongly disagree)

4. I enjoyed the Return of the Magic window displays. (strongly agree, agree, neither agree nor disagree, disagree, strongly disagree)

5. I enjoyed playing the Return of the Magic SCVNGR game. (strongly agree, agree, neither agree nor disagree, disagree, strongly disagree)

6. I play or have played other location-based games or used location tracking apps on my phone (Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook Places, etc.) If so, please list which ones you have used.

7. How did you hear about the Return of the Magic game?

8. Would you play the Return of the Magic game again? (why or why not?)

9. Would you recommend this game to others? (why or why not?

10. Was the game interface easy to understand? (comments)

11. I liked the game story about Mrs. Magpie, Chance, & Chloe. (Likert scale)

12. What made you want to play the game (Options: open response or multiple choice: it was fun, it was interesting, prizes, was spending time on Whyte Ave anyway, to learn more about Return of the Magic, to find out the end of the story, other (open to comments)

13. The game was fun (Likert scale)

14. I learned discovered something new about the neighbourhood or local businesses by playing this game (y/n)

15. I went into stores I haven't been into before while playing this game (y/n)

16. I purchased something at the a store or stores while playing the game (y/n)

17. What did you like the most about the game?

18. What did you like the least abou the game?

19. How could the game be more fun?

20. What would you change about the game?


22. Age range: *this is problematic if people play as part of a group, how can we get around this?


Assessment Questions for Participating Store Owners/Managers:

Pre-Game Questions:

1. If you hosted a window display, why did you decide to participate in the Return of the Magic window displays?

2. If you decided to support that scavenger game, why did you offer your support?

3. What do you hope to gain or accomplish through your participation in the scavenger hunt game?

4. What are your expectations for your level of involvement in the game while it is running?

5. How do you expect customers and players to react to the game?

6. Do you feel like the game and your expected involvement was explained clearly by the design team?

7. Did you feel comfortable with the game? Was there information or resources you felt were needed by yourself or your staff that were not provided?

8. How many people did you think would play the game?

9. What aspects of your business do you want to promote through the game?

10. Do you think the game has helped raise awareness of the Whyte Ave area.

11. Have you heard of gamification or are familiar with it?

Post-Game Questions:

1. Please describe your experience participating in the Return of the Magic game (positive/negative/comments or specific stories you would like to share)

2. Would you participate in the window displays again next year?

3. Would you participate in the scavenger hunt game again next year?

4. Was the game generally beneficial, detremental, or inconsequential to your business? Please describe.

5. Were there particular aspects of the game you enjoyed/found beneficial?

6. Where there aspects of the game you would have wanted to change?

Sample game play narrative:

needs to be added by Shannon

  • last edited by s.lucky Nov 13/11
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