GIS Makes Gaming and Mobile Apps More Interactive

Even those of us who aren’t “gamers” probably have a game or two on our mobile devices. Think Candy Crush, Clash of Clans, Words With Friends and remember Farmville? Many of these games have benefited from a broad user-base by tapping into our social networks to add a more interactive gaming experience. And now, with the ability to add GIS (geographic information systems) data into mobile apps, the gaming experience has become even more interactive by integrating real-world GIS data, real cities, actual roads, updated property boundaries and other location-based attributes into your games and mobile apps.

Mobile Games Using a Mapping Layer

We’re all familiar with how quickly Pokémon Go, the free augmented reality (AR) mobile application, swept the nation, and then the globe. In 2016, Pokémon Go broke the Apple App Store’s download record and is still the “Top Grossing iPhone” app – despite the fact it is free to play. The mobile app, available on Apple and Android, was released in July of 2016 and had broken a number of records within that same month. Children, teens, twenty-somethings, thirty-somethings, up to grand-parents and great grandparents were quickly downloading the AR app, catching Pokémon, and taking over nearby gyms. So what was the secret ingredient that made Pokémon Go so successful, in such a short period of time, across so many demographic groups? Was it nostalgia – old fans of the 1990s card game and cartoon series waiting decades for some sort of resurgence? Was it the graphics, compelling Pokemon creatures or exciting gym battles?

Although all of those characteristics of Pokémon Go likely played a role in its immediate success, it’s most likely the GIS and augmented reality component – the process of placing artificial content (like Pokémon and PokéStops) on top of real world streets and landmarks, which positioned Pokémon Go to go viral.

Maps with a Gaming Layer

The Pokémon Go game is basically a map, using GIS data, combined with a gaming layer to create the augmented reality players found so enticing. The original concept, Google Maps: Pokémon Challenge, was released as one of Google’s infamous April Fool’s hoaxes in 2014 as a collaboration between Google and the game’s developers. Although the source of the GIS data, or mapping layer, of the game is unknown, the combination of real-world GIS data with the gaming features quickly made the game exciting for players of all ages and all abilities.

Since the summer of 2016, the popularity of Pokémon Go has subsided, but more likely as a result of developers not introducing new gaming elements as quickly as demand dictated, rather than lack of interest in mobile games and apps integrated with GIS technology. The application of GIS technology to video games and mobile apps is certainly not new but it seems to be growing in popularity and functionality as mobile users not only welcome more geo-tracking data, but actually expect more location-based interaction from their devices.

ReportAll: Parcel Data for Use in Mobile Apps

If you are developing a mobile app or game that would require GIS data, including US property boundaries, parcel and map lines and attributes of real estate parcels like property value, tax data and other property parcel information, ReportAll offers coverage of over 96.9% of the U.S. population with parcel data for at least 144.7 million property parcels. Our parcel boundary data is continuously maintained with over 90 percent updated within 12 months and 70 percent within 6 months. Learn more about how to integrate our data with your mobile application.