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What Are the Different Types of Augmented Reality Games?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen

There are a wide range of augmented reality games, which typically use real world objects to help populate a virtual landscape of some kind. Some of the most popular types of games to use this technology are card games that can be played with a device that allows the players to see creatures and other objects from cards animated in three-dimensions (3D). There are also games that use the environment around a person without other objects, such as ghost hunting simulators played in a person's house. Other types of augmented reality games include those in which a virtual landscape is created by different markers, which can then be interacted with in various ways.

Augmented reality games are played through a device that includes a camera and a display screen, such as a smart phone or a handheld gaming platform. The device is then used to capture video in real time of the environment around the player and different markers can be used to indicate the location for virtual elements that are overlaid onto the image on the screen. This allows for a wide range of different augmented reality games to be created that take advantage of this unusual mixture of real and digital assets.

Woman holding a disc
Woman holding a disc

Some augmented reality games are played using cards, typically collectible ones that include images and statistics about different creatures and items upon them. These cards are used by players to battle against each other, with the winning creature determining the victor in the game. When the cards are used for augmented reality games, however, the players can look at a screen to see the creatures on the cards brought to life through animated 3D models that come out of them. These different creatures can then attack each other, showing the results of the fight between them visually, instead of just through numbers representing attacks and defense.

There are also augmented reality games that use the environment around the player as the area in which the game is played. A smart phone can be used for a ghost hunting application, for example, in which the person scans the rooms of his or her house for ghosts. Digital images appear on the screen, showing these "ghosts" in the room with the player, which are then caught or otherwise interacted with through the game. Similar methods can be used for investigation games in which players look for digital creatures or items "hidden" as virtual assets in their own homes.

Other augmented reality games use a series of marker images to show where the digital assets should appear. Sheets of paper with different graphics can be placed together, scanned with the camera, and used to display digital assets on the screen such as the buildings of a city. Different markers can be used together to create various environments that are animated. The player then interacts with these stages and creatures within them by using additional markers, which can represent weapons or other items that impact the game world.

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Discussion Comments


@Mor - I do hope that they get over the teething problems a lot of games seem to be having at the moment with networking and corporate control of content. It seems like they try to put in augmented reality features that have more to do with ensuring no one can illegally copy the game, rather than trying to enhance the experience for the gamer.


@bythewell - I guess that might be true of some of them, but there are quite a few different kinds of augmented reality games. I mean the Wii consoles basically have nothing but this kind of game, with the way they integrate movement and weight shifting and so forth.

And those games are fun, but I'm really, really looking forward to what we're going to get in the next twenty years or so. Because, if you think about it, at the moment we're just at the very beginning of proper augmented reality. And what we're playing right now is the equivalent of Pong and Pac-Man and Space Invaders.

Now, compare those games to the latest ones, like Skyrim or the Halo series. If augmented game technology improves even a fraction as much as other gaming technology has over the last few decades it's going to be incredible.


I feel like most of the time augmented reality games are really just an excuse to sell multiple components for a gaming system rather than actually create quality games in the first place. I've noticed several of these games popping up recently and they all seem to release new characters every month which you have to purchase in order to play and which kids are drawn to like moths to a flame.

I'm not a big fan of this whole idea because it just seems to cost too much money in the long run. It's more difficult to notice it when you're buying things bit by bit but it adds up after a while. And the total cost is enough to buy multiple other games, while all you're getting is essentially a useless collectible and a few extra pixels.

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