One trend emerging from this year’s South by Southwest is the clever combination of geolocation and game play. Not games in the Foursquare sense, but patterns that more closely model what gamers do in virtual worlds. One of the stand-out examples of this is TapCity. This game app for iPhone/iPod touch and iPad utilizes the power of GPS and Google Maps to tun your city into a gameboard. Think of it as a combination of FourSquare or Gowalla and Monopoly.
By checking in, players can claim or own real-world locations. Other players can challenge your ownership of a space, and thus an epic battle can begin. What makes this even more fun than wrangling for the Mayorship of your local bar is that players can earn in-game rewards and “rent” from ownership. Other players can even try to challenge your ownership and wrest the location from your control. And, like Monopoly, players can buy and sell properties they own.
The possibilities for marketing for the real-world business owners is even deeper than with simple check-in services. And Tap City brings an even more robust competition to the space for those who get really involved.
The concept is great and I’m a fan of the design and look of it. Yes, it’s a little cartoon-y, but what’s the fun of Civilization-level graphics overlayed on the concrete jungle of New York City?
TapCity is very new — the release was less than a week ago — so hurry on and start claiming your favorite places, then let your friends in on it and get them hooked.