WHERE in the Future?

Where In The Future is a foresight project examining the future of location-based services in gaming. With the emergence of locative gamification players like Foursquare; and new locative strategies and tactics from social media titans like Twitter, Facebook, and Google; this space has seen tremendous  growth and evolution over the past few years. Understanding how this evolution might continue is of tremendous value to the designers of games built around location-based services.

OCAD University Graduate Researchers Trevor Haldenby and Gabe Sawhney have drawn methods from the disciplines of strategic foresight and scenario planning to provide a vision of the trends, drivers, and design patterns that could dominate the location-based gaming market in 5 years time. By understanding the ways in which their industry and audience might change, social game designers and developers can use the deliverables of this project to make decisions that support a diversity of possible outcomes. In doing so, designers can strengthen their competitive advantage, and invest in the development of smarter strategies.

The goal of Where In The Future is not to predict tomorrow's markets as much as it is to cast the net of possibility wide, illuminating possible futures that may spell opportunity or despair for the designers of location-based games. By pluralizing the future, we can better explore and consider options for future development in this exciting space.

 Scenarios, Strategy, and the Strategy Processwritten by Kees van der Heijden and published by the Global Business Network provides an excellent overview of foresight methodology

Foresight Project

Proceeding through three main stages - Horizon Scanning and Trend Extrapolation, Foresight Scenarios, and Implications - this project was intended to draw out observations and make future-facing strategic recommendations relevant to designers of location-based games like Toronto's Albedo Informatics.

  • TREND DECK - a library identifying and exploring the implications of significant changes related to location-based gaming, across the STEEP framework of Social, Technological, Economic, Ecological, and Political factors.
  • FORESIGHT SCENARIOS - stories that emerge from taking two of the most critical uncertainties in location-based services and gaming, and contrasting them against each other. Out of this contrast come four written Scenarios - each one told from the perspective of an individual user, and set in a world of 2017 with a unique mix of social values and dominant locative technology platforms.
  • IMPLICATIONS FOR ACTION - strategic recommendations for today's location-based game developers that arise out of comparisons between the business models of today and the possible worlds of tomorrow.


Materials and publications reviewed over the course of this project have been collected in the library of a group on the academic social bookmarking service Mendeley. 100 papers, articles, and proceedings covering trending subject matter related to location-based information services, gaming, and experimental interfaces have been added to the FedDev Research with Albedo Informatics group.

Reflections on signals relevant to location-based system and gaming trends have been collected on Tumblr for easy access. Where In The Future's Tumblr blog is populated with links of interest and lengthier reflections on the design of compelling information interfaces.

Where in the future logo
Process of Where in the Future?
Monday, March 5, 2012 - 8:15pm


EXTEND is a research study that examined Marblemedia's internal structure and recommended strategic action to develop original game IP. The team has studied design processes and team structure within the company and facilitated the development of original IP through a series of workshops. The emphasis here has been to build on existing in-house skills to create new market opportunities for the company. 

With the help of OCADU’s expertise in game design thinking and independent game development this study looked at the internal environment at Marblemedia, both structural and behavioral. This facilitated the creation of a detailed blueprint for changes to strengthen Marblemedia’s position as a creative industries market leader. The team has developed a series of findings, recommendations and tools to help Marblemedia put systems in place to support this evolution. These have been delivered via a final report and a series of workshops.

Research Approaches and Methods

This Fed Dev funded research afforded an opportunity to "live with" the project over a period of time. Accordingly the project was phased in line with de Bono's (1982) framework of Preparation, Incubation, Illumination, and Verification. Each phase of the project was linked to these phases of creative thought. Broadly the phases were planned to gather intelligence on internal processes, external possibilities and business pragmatics. Knowledge gathered from the first two phases fed into subsequent stages of the project informing workshop design and final report recommendations. 

The workshop developed two concepts collaboratively that remain ready for future development. The final stage presented the synthesized opportunities with specific recommendations to the management team. Each of these project phases demanded different approaches that ranged from formal research processes of interview and subsequent analysis to action-research techniques in which participants actively engage with specific creativity exercises. 

More traditional business techniques were then used to synthesize knowledge generated in the earlier stages of the project into a series of recommendations.

This project adopted a multiple method approach, leveraging techniques from business ethnography, creative elicitation and design research. We used both primary and secondary sources to conduct our research. Our primary research included interviews, evaluations and workshops. Our secondary research included academic sources including books & journals, industry reports, creative methods books & websites. 

The project drew on several research paradigms, including:

  1. Ethnographic methods, used to understand the interaction between management, creative and work-for-hire cultures at Marblemedia.
  2. Participatory action research, used to involve stakeholders (specifically, the employees of Marblemedia) in the broader effort to develop the company’s creative culture.
  3. Design research, used to evaluate and refine the models for creative participation and design that may inform the development of Marblemedia’s creative culture.

Resources available on request.

Image of post it notes scattered on a table.
Image of post it notes scattered on a table.
Thursday, July 26, 2012 - 7:15pm

Neutral Carbon Products

‘The Neutral Carbon Product’ provides a pathway to intervention that conceptualizes how to match shopper behaviour to global warming considerations in a grocery setting. We demonstrate the process by expanding upon three interventions that could be adopted by our industry partner. By receiving funds from the Federal Development Grant our team has been able to:

  • identify shopper needs and opportunities
  • highlight three exemplary opportunities in the form of mock-ups that Industry use to align shopper values with shopper behavioural routines

As discussed above, in addition to these two project goals our team has pioneered a body of knowledge hat Zerofootprint and others will be able to reuse to create more shopper interventions to improve climate-friendly shopping (see resource toolkit section for more details):

  • Comparative Landscape of what tools are currently available
  • A process model for understanding the stages of a grocery shopping trip
  • Five distinct personae for grouping shopper behaviours
  • Method for filtering ideas based on persona needs and key learning’s (Idea Assessment Process)
Neutral Carbon Project : Climate friendly shopping Poster
Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - 5:30pm


The Mobile Technology project involves the animation of a 3D construct in the form of a digital hologram that is dimensionally super-imposed over the video display. The mobile app and hologram will utilize the fact that the device is GPS connected, and/or using the accelerometers embedded within the devices. The time of day is another feature that can be exploited to create interactivity.

"Stereoscopic 3D gaming is regularly criticized as being uncomfortable and headache inducing after long periods of time. We wish to determine if indeed this is an issue and under what circumstances. Depending on what is learned, we would like game developers to be able to release effective stereoscopic 3D titles that don’t run the risk of dissuading their customers."

The Mobile Technology Project banner
The Mobile Technology Project sample on iPhone
Tilt Maze sample
iPhone tilt maze
3D image on an iPhone
Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - 7:00pm
Lab Member: 
Michael Page


Holograms you can feel and touch

Haptic Holography was perhaps, first proposed by workers at MIT in the 80s. The Media Lab, headed up by Dr. Stephen Benton, with published papers by Wendy Plesiak and Ravi Pappuh.

Recent developments in both the technology of digital holography and haptics have made it practical to conduct further investigations. Haptic holography is auto-stereoscopic and provides co-axial viewing for the user. Most existing haptic simulations are displayed on 2D computer screens. The user has difficulty navigating the 3D haptic environment due to uncertain spatial relationships. The holographic environment allows the user to grasp the spatial relationship of the haptic space.

Haptic holography may find application in medical & surgical training and as a new form of synthetic reality for artists and designers.

Michael Page, who is the Principal Investigator on the project. Michael has more than 30 years experience in holography, more than 20 years in digital holography. He is a Professor with the Faculty of Fine Art at OCAD U and a Visiting Professor at the Institute for Optical Sciences at the University of Toronto.




Image of Haptic Holography
Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - 6:45pm
Lab Member: 
Michael Page
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