Pervasive game

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A pervasive game is a video game where the gaming experience is extended out in the real world,[1] or where the fictive world in which the game takes place blends with the physical world.[2] The "It's Alive" mobile games company described pervasive games as "games that surround you",[3] while Montola, Stenros and Waern's book, Pervasive Games defines them as having "one or more salient features that expand the contractual magic circle of play spatially, temporally, or socially."[4] The concept of a "magic circle" draws from the work of Johan Huizinga, who describes the boundaries of play.[5]

The origins of pervasive gaming are related[clarification needed] to the concepts of pervasive computing, ubiquitous computing and ubiquitous gaming.[2]


The term has been associated with ubiquitous games, augmented and mixed reality games, mobile games, alternate reality games, (enhanced) live action role playing, affective gaming, virtual reality games, smart toys, location-based or location-aware games, crossmedia games and augmented reality tabletop games.[2] The book Digital Cityscapes categorizes "playful activities that use mobile technologies as interfaces and the physical space as the game board" into four categories; pervasive games is said to be the most general, with urban games, location-based mobile games and hybrid reality games being successively more specific.[6]


Examples of pervasive games are The Killer, The Beast, Shelby Logan's Run, BotFighters, Mystery on Fifth Avenue, Momentum, Pac-Manhattan, Epidemic Menace, Insectopia, Vem Gråter, REXplorer, Uncle Roy All Around You and Amazing Race.[4]

Pervasive game examples built on the EQUIP 2 software architecture, used in Equator and thereafter in IPerG, include Can You See Me Now?, Rider Spoke, Day of the Figurines, Love City and Exploding Places.[7] Niantic, Inc. launched Ingress in 2012, with about 500,000 players globally, and Pokémon Go in 2016.

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  1. ^ Benford, Steve; Magerkurth, Carsten; Ljungstrand, Peter (2005), Bridging the physical and digital in pervasive gaming (PDF), Communications of the ACM, ACM, pp. 54–57, archived from the original (PDF) on 11 November 2014 
  2. ^ a b c Nieuwdorp, E. (2007). "The pervasive discourse". Computers in Entertainment. 5 (2): 13. doi:10.1145/1279540.1279553. 
  3. ^ "What is Pervasive Gaming?". It's Alive Mobile Games AB. Archived from the original on 24 February 2005. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  4. ^ a b Montola, Markus; Stenros, Jaakko; Waern, Annika (2009). Pervasive Games. Theory and Design. Experiences on the Boundary Between Life and Play. Morgan Kaufmann Publishers. 
  5. ^ Oppermann, Leif (April 2009), Facilitating the development of location-based experiences, University of Nottingham, 
  6. ^ de Souza e Silva, Adriana; Sutko, Daniel M. (2009). Digital Cityscapes: merging digital and urban playspaces. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. 
  7. ^ Greenhalgh, Chris. "Chris Greenhalgh's Home Page". Retrieved 2013-10-17. collaborations with performance artists Blast Theory (Rider Spoke, Day of the Figurines) and Active Ingredient (Love City, Exploding Places) 

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