AR Opens up Playability Possibilities

Yesterday, I pointed out that Pokémon Go was a playable workout app, where playable means that the game design ideas are driving the app, as opposed to gamification, where it’s slapped on.

I was thinking more about this and realized how many apps may be turned into games via AR. Again, not with badges, but by making playing the point of the app.

Not just for workout apps, which I think will drive lots of AR games.

But for something really different: consider an app that wanted to help you to eat healthier by guiding you while grocery shopping.

We all know what that app would look like: a list of grocery items, maybe color coded with “healthiness”. You tap tap tap when you buy eggplant, spinach, and blueberries (“You got an anti-oxidant badge!”). You lose points when you scan that box of mini-donuts.

The AR version has zombies in the cookie aisle.

Interestingly, the produce section seems to have no zombies—better scavenge there. Cookie boxes emit a piercing sound when they are in your cart, drawing the dead towards you. Leave them behind to draw them away.

An art appreciation app could help me get more out of a museum by telling me a little about what I might see and then making a ad-hoc quiz show as I take in the art. Or putting me in a pub quiz later based on what I looked at.

AR could turn a tour guide app into a spy hunt game. Follow that lady in the black trench coat and see what she’s up to—she’s boarding the boat to the Statue of Liberty! It’s practically the plot of North by Northwest.

These would be games, which are fun, not gamification.