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Mogi Location-Based Mobile Gaming Hits Japan 164

Thanks to TheFeature for its article discussing the popular Japanese mobile phone game Mogi, a title which "uses both the position of players in the landscape, and the landscape itself to generate play." The French developers of Mogi at Newt Games explain: "We used the map to give [virtual] creatures some interesting behavior. Some creatures only hunt at night. Some hang around close to parks", thus: "If a player wants to find that [in-game] creature, they'll have to travel near a park [playing Mogi on their mobile phone] in the evening hours." A keen Tokyo-based player of the game also explains why he enjoys it: "All the trips I make in the city are now randomized, as I will often divert a few hundred meters to go and collect an object around me."
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Mogi Location-Based Mobile Gaming Hits Japan

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  • by Hittite Creosote ( 535397 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:23AM (#8745015)
    Some creatures only hunt at night. Some hang around close to parks

    Anyone in New York fancy going to a park at night time and waving around your expensive mobile phone?

    • by dfn_deux ( 535506 ) <[datsun510] [at] [gmail.com]> on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:47AM (#8745090) Homepage
      Not just the players are in danger, imagine idiot drivers on their cellphones randomly flying across 4 lanes of traffic to avoid a monster or collect some treasure... It's just stupid enough that it might succeed in America.
      • by El Torico ( 732160 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @07:36AM (#8745604)
        ...imagine idiot drivers on their cellphones randomly flying across 4 lanes of traffic...

        Have you ever driven in Naples, Italy?

      • Have you ever driven in any large city here in the US? I know I have, and therefore don't have to imagine the idiots flying across 4 lanes, I see them.
      • I've been thinking of making a game similar to this for months (and am surprised to see such a game already exists). I like RPG style games but find that the heart of the game, questing, is rather boring because it's repetitious and you don't really do anything. You wander the map to collect stuff.. the map mostly looking the same thru most of the game.. and fight things which are mostly boring (I usually make my first moves and then just hold the button down to keep repeating those moves). I like the outdo
    • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday April 02, 2004 @10:12AM (#8746592) Homepage Journal
      solution: impose a map of crime levels with the map of the city and direct players to the safest locations. bonus points if you also correspond it with a traffic density map, and direct players to areas with relatively low (but not zero) density of people, in order to minimize the game's impact on the outside world.

      I can see easily that this game should be huge to advertisers. Imagine being able to direct people to your soba shop...

      • by SEWilco ( 27983 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:44AM (#8747426) Journal
        Problem: Players being directed to locations away from criminals.

        Solution: Steal a game phone. Follow directions to locations where you can steal more phones.

        • An excellent and humorous riposte, to be sure. But, aside from pickpocketing (which you can never protect people against) the only places you need have people regularly congregate is in front of (or inside of) your advertisers. Granted they have to accept that people will be coming into their store just to get an item, so presumably they would rather you drive the traffic to someplace right out front. I would assume that you could really get malls on board. People are used to going to malls anyway so it's n
    • is well known for being perhaps the safest big city in the world. That's why they can get away with it there.
  • Pokemon.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by zarthrag ( 650912 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:24AM (#8745020)
    ...and don't you dare say that isn't what it's going to come to. People are going to run around the country-side/planet chasing small cute fighting animals with one word vocabularies and, ultimately, train them to fight each other.

  • by tehcyder ( 746570 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:25AM (#8745021) Journal
    You could hack the game so that your victims went to a suitable lonely dark corner of a park...or for the /.ers you could lure a dizzy bimbo to your house with the promise of a "special bonus" ;-)

  • logical extention (Score:5, Insightful)

    by trmj ( 579410 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:25AM (#8745023) Journal
    This seems like a logical extention of the pokemon style gameboy games. Hardware will be a big limiting factor, though, as will time if the game continues to play while you're not.
    • There is a GPS module available for the gameboy advance as far as I'm aware...

      So i dont see any reason why it couldnt be done directly on pokemon games on them.

  • I like it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jackdaw Rookery ( 696327 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:31AM (#8745043) Homepage Journal
    This is novel, and regardless of the dangers of doing this in the west - gimmie that phone now kid - this will catch on.

    Anyone want to take a bet that this won't appear in the Pokemon series of games? Nintendo are not adverse to hardware add-ons. Not that they all succeed but that's another topic.

    It gets kids out of the house, even interacting like geo-caching; I can see the press being positive over this, given the right spin. You'd have to avoid getting kids going to the park at night though, perhaps have the game force you to enter your birth date at the start.

    Easy to get around but gives a legal/press get out clause.
    • Re:I like it (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:34AM (#8745053)
      Pokemon Crystal in Japan had a cellphone play feature. It was short-lived, but innovative at the time.

      Nintendo now have kiosks where gamers can play wirelessly against each other.
    • This is novel, and regardless of the dangers of doing this in the west - gimmie that phone now kid - this will catch on

      So there's no crime in Japan at all?
      right...
      • No, but they have far less guns. Gun control, you know. Of course, some criminals still have guns in Japan, (as gun fans are wont to point out) but less of them do. The gun fans would then like to counter that guns can be used for self-defense, or something, but when you're playing this game, it's unlikely that you'll be able to get to your gun too easily. Especially if you're a 15 year old girl.
        • You don't need a gun to steal a phone, expecially if you're robbing a 15 year old girl. There are plenty of other things you can use as weapons too...guns aren't the issue, crime rate is.
          • Besides which...

            Stealing a phone? What the hell can you do with a stolen phone in Japan? The owner calls in the phone as stolen, it gets shut off, and you now have a stolen paperweight.

            I'm going to have to assume phones work a little differently overseas, because from what I can tell, stealing a phone would only be useful for getting about 1 hour of free calls, and there are much easier and less risky ways to do that.
            • I'm sure that (like here) you could take the phone into a cellular place and get it activated for yourself...save yourself the cost of the phone...sure it's petty, but so is the average criminal.
              • Nope...As far as I know, you can only do that for white ROMS(ROMs without a number built in). For black ROMs, you could only get the same number activated, and when you request reactivation, the fact that it was stolen would come up on the screen at the shop. And since something like 95% of phones are white ROM phones, the criminal would be dealing with a 95% chance of getting caught and a 5% chance of success.
  • by LamerX ( 164968 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:40AM (#8745067) Journal
    Perhaps they could put items or whatever in social areas, like clubs or bars. This way not only will us geeks get our exercise roaming around the city, we may be forced to mingle with real people. Maybe they could pay hot chicks to be waiting in a club, and the only way you can get experience points is to talk her into giving you a secret code! Just think, for a small montly fee you could get interaction with a hot chi...

    sssh!! time to run and patent this brilliant money-making idea!!
    • by Soul-Burn666 ( 574119 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @04:38AM (#8745208) Journal
      "sssh!! time to run and patent this brilliant money-making idea!!"

      For some reason I read that as a "monkey-making" idea. It also seemed correct ;)
    • by droleary ( 47999 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @06:49AM (#8745488) Homepage

      Maybe they could pay hot chicks to be waiting in a club, and the only way you can get experience . . . is to talk her into giving you a . . . Just think, for a . . . fee you could get interaction with a hot chi...

      I don't mean to put a total damper on your pre-IPO frenzy, yet I cannot help but mention that prior art exists in the form of nothing less than the world's oldest profession. And a pimp's got a better business plan, too, because the chicks don't even have to be all that hot, and the "interaction" is way better than just silly game chit-chat.

      • yeah but this Better...

        This is E-Pimp.. or iPimp (if we get apple on board)...I'll make millions..

        Oh wait it's not 1998 anymore... damn. No more VCs with more money than brains.
    • "Perhaps they could put items or whatever in social areas, like clubs or bars."

      I appreciate the humor of the suggestion, but the marketting concept is also too obvious to overlook. Monsters/experience points/encounters in specific stores/bars/etc. There are too many modes of abusing this concept either for legal profit, or for illegal. Imagine getting hundreds of people to show up at a marketting show where in a sence they have paid for the advertisement because they are paying for the cell phone use.
    • Maybe they could pay hot chicks to be waiting in a club, and the only way you can get experience points is to talk her into giving you a secret code!

      Yeah, let's all wait for that.
    • Perhaps they could put items or whatever in social areas, like clubs or bars. This way not only will us geeks get our exercise roaming around the city, we may be forced to mingle with real people. Maybe they could pay hot chicks to be waiting in a club, and the only way you can get experience points is to talk her into giving you a secret code! Just think, for a small montly fee you could get interaction with a hot chi...

      That game already exists. It was called "Leisure Suit Larry...."
    • Perhaps they could put items or whatever in social areas, like clubs or bars. This way not only will us geeks get our exercise roaming around the city, we may be forced to mingle with real people. Maybe they could pay hot chicks to be waiting in a club, and the only way you can get experience points is to talk her into giving you a secret code! Just think, for a small montly fee you could get interaction with a hot chi...

      sssh!! time to run and patent this brilliant money-making idea!!

      To put a serious spi

  • Reality gaming! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rastakid ( 648791 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:40AM (#8745068) Homepage Journal
    This is seriously cool, but it would even be cooler if it would be available for PDAs and laptops due to the better systems these devices are running on. Of course a mobile phone has the advantage of locating, thus the PDA or laptop should be equiped with a GPS device, or something like GPRS. However, it would make these things much cooler than on the mobile phone: imagine virtual worlds based on the real world. So you can in-game walk the same street as you're walking in-real-life, but only in-game it's packed with action, wheres the in-real-life version is as boring as always. Now that would be reality gaming!
    • Re:Reality gaming! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Flibz ( 716178 )
      Reminds me of this... Reality Quake [unisa.edu.au]
    • by Arathrael ( 742381 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @04:06AM (#8745138)
      So you can in-game walk the same street as you're walking in-real-life, but only in-game it's packed with action, wheres the in-real-life version is as boring as always.

      I don't know about the real-life version being boring - I imagine it'd be quite entertaining to watch hordes of people walking into things and falling over because they were trying to play a game and walk down a street simultaneously (a bad move when many probably haven't yet mastered walking and chewing gum at the same time).

      Plenty of scope there for passing away the time Nelson (from the Simpsons) style: Ha-ha!

      Or, you could get interactive and try to break their minds by dressing up as characters from the game and confronting them in real life. Now that would be fun! :-)

      • imagine it'd be quite entertaining to watch hordes of people walking into things and falling over because they were trying to play a game and walk down a street simultaneously

        You forgot to mention balancing a laptop on one fore-arm while trying to play with the other hand...
  • Damn (Score:3, Funny)

    by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:42AM (#8745073)
    I will often divert a few hundred meters to go and collect an object around me.

    Those dealers for not standing still
    • Re:Damn (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      seriously. they could definately port like a dope wars style game to this VERY successfully.. i would have no problem paying a monthly fee for that.

      you could have an ebay ranking type system incase of narcs.
  • Lawsuit pending? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Channard ( 693317 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:44AM (#8745082) Journal
    Now all we need is for someone to wander into the path of a juggernaut while playing this and for them/their parents to sue the game maker - it'll be like the GTA fiasco all over again. Hmm.. now I think about it, imagine if you could use this with GTA - see a car you want to steal? Just wander over to it and you can steal it in the game.
  • "All the trips I make in the city are now randomized, as I will often divert a few hundred meters to go and collect an object around me."

    So the harder the game gets, the lesser your chances of reaching anywhere on time?
  • Advertising (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Elanor ( 130622 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:54AM (#8745105)
    This game could easily pay dividends in advertising... "Go find the new coffee flavour at the $tarbucks store".

    Great way to get to know a city, though you'd really need to feel secure.

    Could also be applied as a Virtual guide for a tourist trail. E.g. Walk around the countryside, get guided to the local stately pile or see if you can spot the rare lesser-spotted trilby in the bird sanctuary...

    Reminds me of this story [slashdot.org]
    • This game could easily pay dividends in advertising... "Go find the new coffee flavour at the $tarbucks store".

      No thanks.

      In America, you might be used to having adverts rammed down your throats wherever and whatever you do, but as someone who lives in a country where advertising is a little less "in your face" the last thing I want is a game peppered with commercials.

      • Don't worry, advertisers don't have to be that obvious. After finding an item you'll just take a look around and damn if there isn't a Starbucks within sight every time.

        Then again in midtown NYC it would be hard to find a spot from which you couldn't see a Starbucks.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:57AM (#8745113)
    Instead of sitting at home playing Gamestation the japanese kids get some exercise by walking around in the city toying with their mobile phones. To me this looks like an improvement.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Was never really a problem. Unlike you lazy American bums (ok, ok, me too) who would drive, for example, 3 blocks from an off-campus housing to the campus, Japanese people typically walk or bike everyday to get to the bus/train station because
      1) getting a drivers license requires over a month of schooling and about $2000.
      2) unless you're off in the farmlands, there is no side street parking
      3) traffic is brutul and the streets incredibly narrow

      So, the trains are cheaper, faster, and more convenient and so g
  • Nothing new ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rasjani ( 97395 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @04:15AM (#8745158) Homepage
    Finnish GSM Operator Dna (link here [dnafinland.fi]) had a some kind of Robot Wars game last year going on in Finland. It was playable in Helsinki central area and one had to find people around central that where in the game to engage and fight them and this was done by phone locationing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 2004 @04:19AM (#8745165)
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think there are any phones out yet that are capable of doing this. Even on phones that have the emergency GPS 911 system (based on the signal strength to various signal towers) - I didn't think the location information was available to software running on the phone itself (and was only readable by a 911 operator).

    Sucks because this would be pretty damn cool.

    There's a somewhat larger playing field over here in the US as well. :)
  • Dangerous (Score:5, Funny)

    by StrawberryFrog ( 67065 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @04:20AM (#8745169) Homepage Journal
    A device sending you to a park? at night? sounds right for a flashmugging [technicola.com]
  • Further... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AngstAndGuitar ( 732149 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @04:32AM (#8745193)
    A (female) friend of mine spends much of her time doing online fantasy RPing, she keeps complaining to me that idiot guys see that she plays as an elf, and think "my character need to #$%& her.", now, imagine this in real life, with GPS equipped phones, were you can track each other's movements, or just wait near some interesting item, add to this that Japan seems to have more than it's share of perverts...
    • A (female) friend of mine spends much of her time doing online fantasy RPing, she keeps complaining to me that idiot guys see that she plays as an elf, and [males players proposition her for "virtual sex], now, imagine this in real life....

      This won't be a problem in real life. In real life -- no offense to your friend, who I'm sure is quite pulchritudinous -- the vast majority of "girls" who "spend much of [their] time doing online fantasy RPing", and as elf-maidens, no less, are, in fact boys.

      That minor
      • You're right that most 'female' players are really male, but are you so sure that most computer-addicted females are fat? I know 4 geeky females, and only one of them is overweight (used to be hot but two kids really took it out of her). One of them has cranked out two kids and remained ultra-hot. They go out to karaoke and whatnot, and have social lives, but when they're home, it's a good thing they have broadband or one could never phone them. Most of the overweight women I have encountered are not so muc
  • What happens when an item is in the middle of a busy road or intersection?
  • cool, but is it available in english, and can I get it in Yokosuka or Yokohama? Tokyo is kinda far, especially the fasionable parts.
  • I can definitely see how this type of thing could be commercialized and taken advantage of. Imagine Starbucks paying the publisher to place extra special items in the vicinity their stores.. or a Makudonald's
  • how does it work? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by flaez ( 471571 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @05:04AM (#8745252) Homepage
    I was under the impression that you can only be localized with a precision of around 100m using cellphone signal strength (maybe slightly better in urban centers) -- how will you lure players to some specific 'dark corner' then? I suppose the service providers could do some fancy triangulation with your signal strength at different stations, but a) you would have to get them to actually do that and give you the data, b) this would raise serious privacy issues.

    this may be just a ploy to get people to accept tracking technologies. I have been waiting for them to come up with a reason why tracking us was a "good thing", but I didn't figure the rationale would be a game. I suppose, soon standard phones will come with gps receivers, and as to who your position is transmitted to -- well, you'll just have to trust the firmware does what the booklet says it does.

    • Re:how does it work? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Bushcat ( 615449 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @05:18AM (#8745280)
      The phones have GPS. The actual positional calculation is offloaded to the network. But non-GPS phones have pretty good accuracy in Japan due to the cell density, anyway.

      I did some work on a similar type of game last year, and our main concern was whether we actually wanted people to physically meet each other, so we had virtual object layers superimposed on the city, where each player saw their own personalized layer: two people could be racing towards an object, but each saw the object in a different location.

  • Community support (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Maladriak ( 767792 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @05:15AM (#8745275)
    Although going to look for a mythical creature in a city park at night might be considered a bad idea. It would be nice to know that at any point if you got into problems you could hit a "Panic" key on your phone/pda/etc and all other gamers in the vicinity would get a flag telling them to come to your assistance.
  • by SmackCrackandPot ( 641205 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @05:21AM (#8745284)
    some day, there'll be a huge scramble of people waiting for some locked gate or door to be opened in order to get a valuable item just within range. Remember what happened when some company came out with a handheld game that used barcodes to generate characters (Scannerz?). There were sudden shortages of commodity items.
  • by maxence ( 59402 ) <maxence@m4xenc[ ]om ['e.c' in gap]> on Friday April 02, 2004 @06:04AM (#8745377) Homepage
    ... and have the chance to own a GPS-enabled KDDI phone, just enter the "EZ Internet Number" 53577 to download the Java application and start playing.

    And there currently is 1-month free trial running!

    OK that's shameless promotion, I work for Newt Games :)
  • by Afty0r ( 263037 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @08:05AM (#8745711) Homepage
    We have about 1/3 of the well moderated comments on this thread talking about the dangers of going to a park at night.

    Parks are some of the most beauitful areas of our world, and particularly in the city. They are not only beautiful during the day but also at night when everything looks different, wildlife acts differently etc.

    It's so sad that so many people believe parks should not be visited at night... and how many believe it is the game makers responsiblity to keep people away from parks at night - surely it's the responsibility of no-one except (potential) criminals who may be there, and the police + management organisations whos job it is to keep those areas safe.

    Instead of moaning or crowing about potential law suits for location based games, try lobbying your representatives to raise taxes and spend it on more police presence.
    • We have plenty of cops. what we need are less cops on the highways looking for speeders and ticketing kids for having tassles hanging from their rear view mirrors. Though I suppose that's just one of the hassles of living in a low crime area. *sigh*
    • Or move to Japan, where this game is played, and "park at night" is about as dangerous as "movie theater at noon" or "planetaium at 6:00 pm".
  • by bigattichouse ( 527527 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @08:11AM (#8745725) Homepage
    Imagine I own a new store. I "sponsor" a power-up or a cool monster by paying mogi a lot of money.. the monster shows up every 4 hours or so... causing people to come hunt down the monster and conveniently end up inside my shop. (say in the corner, where I have a place for them to sit and drink some tea)
  • Imagine hacking this system for evil deeds.

    Steer an innocent guy to the wrong place at the wrong time -- he takes the fall for a bank robbery.

    Maybe use the innocent guy as an unwitting drug mule?

    -kgj
  • this game combined with augmented reality technology
  • Blimey! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Talith ( 765671 )
    The other day you were all moaning how the lack of originality was ruining the industry. Bring it on, I say - this sounds great - hope they make one for London...

  • How dare they put virtual objects on my Geolocation. A man's home is his Intellectual Property.

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