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PhD thesis

Engaging with Place through Location-Based Games: Navigation and Narrative in Game Design and Play Experiences

How do designers and players of location-based games engage with place? And what are the implications for how we understand 'place' as a concept today?

Three images showing mobile digital devices being used to navigate places

This thesis examines how people engage with place through location-based games. Location-based games are those that incorporate the player’s physical location and/or actions into the gameplay through media interfaces. Despite growing in popularity over the past two decades, there is an absence of fine-grained ethnographic research into everyday practices and emplaced experiences of location-based game design and play.


The contributions of this thesis are built upon three years of practice-based, autoethnographic participation in developing location-based games, alongside ethnographic observation, interviews and focus groups with creative collaborators and players. Its findings unpack how engagement with place unfolds through the design and play of location-based games and the implications of these processes for how we understand place as a concept today. In doing so, it builds upon scholarship concerning locative and mobile media, interfaces, play, digital narratives, games and philosophies of place.

Get in touch if you'd like to read a copy of this thesis:

Watch a brief summary of my research findings here:



















Learn about design techniques for engaging with place through games and other interactive or site-specific experiences:


Learn about the three games developed as part of this research:

An ornate, golden mechanical navigation device on a dark blue background
An image of an old stone wall covered by a metal grille and a climbing plant is positioned next to a poem with three words highlighted in green
A satellite image of a seaside town with several coloured pins overlayed. A box appears above one of the pins with text reading 'The Gates to Dreamland, Ash Wednesday 1634, Part 1 of 6' and a play button.

Canterbury in 3 Words

The Timekeeper's Return

The Gates to Dreamland

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