They’ll like it in Seoul

Letting demonic forces loose in the capital of the UK for fun and profit

Ok, so I’ve been thinking (oh-oh) lately about the not terribly successful MMORPG Hellgate London.

For those unfamiliar with it (ie: just about everybody) it’s set in a future London after demons have taken over the Earth. You play as a member of resistance group fighting against the demons with both high power weaponry and magic, and taking shelter in the Underground (which was apparently constructed with demon resistant properties by a farsighted conspiracy of Freemasons).

The game didn’t garner much in the way of praise and the company that made it has now gone bust – although some servers are struggling on in South Korea (is there any game that doesn’t do well in South Korea?). Nonetheless I’ve always thought the basic concept was kind of cool (I am after all a devoted Londiniophile).

Anyway I was thinking about how some games (exploiting the various location technologies present in phones and other handhelds these days) are starting to take advantage of geolocation. And it struck me – how cool would a cut down version of Hellgate London be if you actually had to play it in London?!

Think about it. Your character is sent out to battle some Demons at Trafalgar Square. In order to complete the quest you actually have to physically go to Trafalgar Square. You then sit there outside the National Gallery, fighting demons on your handheld until the quest is complete. Afterwards, when your character needs to rest, trade and replenish supplies you have to physically go to an Underground station (or at least stand outside one – making people pay for train tickets to play the game seems a little harsh).

Now naturally this approach would have some problems. The market would be restricted to people actually in London (although you could probably set up games located in plenty of major cities), there’d be plenty of gamers who wouldn’t be interested in tramping around the streets when they could be sitting inside, sucking down doritos, and the National Gallery might not want hordes of nerds standing outside playing with their iPhones. But for those people who got involved it would be an extra level of immersion – superimposing the game world over the real world in a fairly unprecedented way.

So that’s my idea. I’m sure they’d like it in Seoul.

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