In order to generate enough social buzz on the street to help build an audience, mobile augmented reality game designers should ensure that play is accessible, visibly different and ideally, social.
Santa’s Lil Helper (SLH), was a free mobile AR Christmas-themed treasure hunt application/event set up temporarily in a metropolitan area that failed to generate broad engagement due to a limited honeypot effect (HP involves the attractive lure of a crowd at play, visible popularity, fun and curious happenings in public and social contexts). Whereas the honeypot effect (HP) is generally a useful contributor to the success of public technologies, by creating awareness, stimulating audience interest, and lowering social barriers to involvement the mobile application Santa’s Lil Helper impeded that effect because of:
1) a lack of presence of people in relation to the game and its interactive components
2) a lack of visibility of gameplay in urban space
3) lack of sharing options
SLH involved a treasure hunting-style task in which Santa had reportedly lost his mobile phone. Players had to help recover the phone by visiting six different locations within the city. Users could visit the locations in any order they wished to complete the game. Each location was denoted by temporary physical markers, which served as triggers for AR content within the game. Five of the six sites contained markers that were four-sided columns approximately 1.85 metres in height. The sixth site had a marker that was implemented as a sign above a large red throne.
The city council had commissioned the game and advertised it throughout the city. Nevertheless, the game sites typically contained only a handful of people at any one time, so that no player crowds were visible to passers-by.
LACK OF PRESENCE
The researchers suggest that perhaps the game was too widely distributed across all 6 sites, so that the number of people and time spent at each location was significantly limited (and HP would need to be regenerated at each site). This dispersion also meant that there was less control of the interaction – which may be significant since the temporary disruption/redirection of the normal flow of urban movement and traffic can also generate interest.
LACK OF VISIBILITY
At that time of year, the props blended in with all the other Christmas decorations and were easily lost/absorbed/rendered invisible amidst the bustling city streets. People would often occupy those spaces for other activities, like sitting down. Furthermore, the main action of the game was pointing a phone at the markers to view the AR, which is similar to the way that people use phones normally, so it was not clear to passers-by that participants were playing a game.
LACK OF SHARING
Given the action occurred on personal mobile screens, it was hard for passers-by to observe the AR. Also, the application’s large file size meant that passers-by could not spontaneously download it and join in.
n.b. As part of this study the researchers discovered that the offer of on-street mobile charging services encouraged longer, more personable and in-depth user interviews.
Kelly, R.M., Ferdous, H.S., Wouters, N. and Vetere, F., 2019, April. Can Mobile Augmented Reality Stimulate a Honeypot Effect?: Observations from Santa's Lil Helper. In Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (p. 285). ACM.
The USW Audience of the Future research team is compiling a summary collection of recent research in the field of immersive, and enhanced reality media