Exploring Games and Gameplay as a Means of Accessing and Using Geographical Information

William E. Cartwright


Gaming computers are now as powerful as their office/industry counterparts, or, in some cases, even more powerful. Gaming strategies and games could provide an innovative means for accessing geographical information, including geographical information accessed via the Web.

This paper reports on research undertaken to ascertain the usefulness of implementing a “games” interface for accessing geographical information. Three simple prototype packages were built and subsequently tested to see if access to information via a different interface would enhance information provided to users from a selected user group profile – the “Nintendo” group of users. Ormeling (1993) has identified this group as those users who have been exposed to computer games and thus potentially prefer access to computer-delivered information via this type of interface. The use of the prototypes was compared with the use of a conventional paper map for the same area and evaluations were completed to ascertain:

- The general operability of the products;
- Whether users preferred other metaphor approaches to traditional map interfaces;
- Whether 3D graphic interfaces are preferable to 2D interfaces; and
- Whether this type of product provides a better “picture” of reality.

It was found that generally users preferred interactive multimedia to using conventional maps. They found that it would be easier for users who were not competent computer users to use a game-like control, and that the cognitive load was generally easier with a 3D interface, compared to a 2D interface.

Furthermore, it was possible to conclude that this type of product provided a better understanding of a real place than a conventional map.

This paper provides a background to the research, information about how the research was conducted, results from the evaluations and propositions for further research


geographical knowledge; information access; interfaces; cartography; multimedia

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