Re-enchanting the city: Hybrid space, affect and playful performance in geocaching, a location-based mobile game

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This paper presents an analysis of the location-based mobile game (LMBG) geocaching – a worldwide scavenger hunt enabled by Web 2.0 and global positioning system (GPS) technology. The analysis is informed by a non–representational approach (Thrift, 1996, 2008) in which the urban space where the game is played and the use and performance of information and communication technologies (ICTs) are grasped as mutually constitutive processes. This approach sheds new light on the phenomenon of geocaching, as it prioritizes the embodied performances through which the player relates the hybrid game space with the contingency and affective potential of urban space. This relation is partly constituted through the notion of a ‘player gaze’, through which the player appropriates her surroundings. The paper also demonstrates how the game expands the edges of the ‘magic circle’ of play (Huizinga [1950] 1955; Montola 2005, 2012) hereby merging the ‘serious’ spaces of everyday life with the playfulness related to the game. Previous studies on geocaching have mainly focused on the sharing of places and ‘local knowledge’, thus paying little, if any attention to the role of the player and the ways in which she enhances the playability of the game through playful improvisations invoked by affective encounters with non- players. The article suggests that these embodied performances intertwine with the urban fabric and technological affordances hereby sparking a potential ‘re-enchantment’ (Jenkins 2006) of the urban space. The paper draws on a qualitative fieldwork conducted from 2011–2012 amongst practitioners of geocaching in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventAssociation of American Geographers Annual Meeting 2014 - Tampa Convention Center, Tampa, Florida, United States
Duration: 8. Apr 201412. Apr 2014


ConferenceAssociation of American Geographers Annual Meeting 2014
LocationTampa Convention Center
CountryUnited States
CityTampa, Florida

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