Place based mobile Games and experiential learning in natural environments

Catherine Grundy, Yolandi Taylor-Banks

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Place based mobile games have the potential to support experiential learning through enhancing a landscape with enticing media and encouraging interaction with the real world. When contextual awareness is combined with Augmented Reality (AR) and different forms of interaction, the potential for enjoyable and educational engagement with the physical world can be greatly enhanced. However, there can be issues with maintaining immersion, due to divided attention across virtual and physical environments, higher levels of difficulty, particularly during navigation tasks, and distractions that affect concentration.

This paper describes a contribution to a wider research investigation that considered how the play experience of outdoor place-based games can be optimised to encourage young people to engage with natural environments and learn about what they find. A central aim was to create a new framework was based on flow theory, introduced by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi that will categorise design guidelines that can support the development of an ‘ideal experience’ for place-based games.

A collaborative project between the University of Brighton, Friendly Fox Games and Forestry England specifically addressed features, particularly relating to game goals and narratives, that influenced levels of perceived control in games, an aspect of flow that is pivotal to success and motivation. A proposed new flow framework for PBMGs was subsequently adapted through the findings, alongside specific design guidelines that can help to overcome typical problems and challenges during play.

Children were included in an extensive co-design process, along with stakeholders, as part of a design-based research methodology. Prototype games were subsequently implemented and tested in forests in the UK, with positive feedback from both children and teachers.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sept 2022
Event16th European Conference on Games Based Learning, ECGBL 2022 - Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 6 Oct 20227 Oct 2022


Conference16th European Conference on Games Based Learning, ECGBL 2022


  • Location Based Games
  • Nature Trails
  • Flow Theory for Games
  • Outdoor digital games
  • Co-designing with Children
  • Place Based Mobile Games


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