Nowadays, traveling is becoming increasingly easier. New and cheaper means of communication make tourism available for a larger number of people. Withal, smartphones are trending and they are replacing the common cellphone at a fast rate. It’s safe to assume that, in a near future, every single person will be able to afford a mobile device of this kind, including tourists. Many applications exist for mobile devices, specifically for smartphones, in order to help tourists in their journeys. There are applications to help the tourist before he gets to a destination, and while he is exploring a new place. All the applications available share the same problem, though: as they are created and maintained by third-party entities, content may not be complete or updated and, at the same time, they lack user feedback in order to fight these problems. The best information about which points are interesting in a city is usually held by locals, or by people that visited that city recently. As locals tend to know even the most remote places inside their homeland, and recent tourists have the most updated information about the current state of the places they pass, these groups of people appear to be the best sources of information for a tourism application. An application fed and maintained by its users, seems like the solution for the poor state of the information contained in mobile applications for tourists, but, motivating travelers to share their knowledge, in a long-term basis, poses a problem. This dissertation tackles that problem through the use of Serious Games. Being so, this project studies the impact of Serious Games in this area, accessing if they are a good method to achieve users collaboration in the building and maintenance of a tourism database, in a long term basis. A prototype of a Serious Game for Android was developed, in order to enable the study of the effects on tourists of an application of this kind. This prototype was deployed, which allowed the validation by user testing. A group 20 individuals was selected as test group, and tested the application in the terrain. Data was collected from their experience and, after the testing period, users were submitted to a survey in order to realize which were their feelings towards this new experience. Results showed that Serious Games are a viable approach to achieve several objectives. Users from the test group showed to be interested in the gaming environment, enabling them to share their knowledge, possibly in a long term basis. At the same time, this approach proved to be valuable in the areas of teaching and training.
Julian Alvarez, Damien Djaouti, and Laurent Michaud. Serious Games: Training & Teaching - Healthcare - Defence & security - Information & Communication. IDATE, http://www.idate.org, juin 2010.