When breaking down locative narratives into their bare characteristics, one must look at the fact that they require something extra than normal forms of media for the user to gain any information from it. In his article “The Affordance and Constraints of Mobile Locative Narratives,” Jeff Ritchie terms this effect as “really nontrivial effort” to pun Espen Aarseth’s idea of the nontrivial effort required to navigate ergodic literature. What makes navigating a locative narrative “really nontrivial” is that it requires some sort of movement from one location to another.
Now, especially in this century it seems, people, mainly kids and young adults, are criticized for a perceived increase in laziness and unwillingness to do more work than is required. Comparatively, the biggest challenge that designers on locative narratives face is “offer[ing] a reward perceived to be greater than the effort required of the audience” (Ritchie). Since locative narratives have only begun to arise in the past few decades, this raises the question; are people not willing to put enough effort into these narratives or have they just not been developed enough yet?”
Personally, my vote is for the latter. The idea of locative narratives or media wasn’t something the general public was aware of until this past summer when Pokemon Go came out. This was one of the most hyped games in recent memory, and, for a while, was
the biggest and most played game. People would walk miles searching for Pokemon. However, like with most games, the effort required to traverse through the game slowly became greater than the perceived reward that was earned from the game.
In my opinion, I think the scope of the game was too big for its current state. Other forms of locative media have been successful, such as Txtual Healing a story project discussed by Jason Farman in his article “Stories, spaces, and bodies.” The idea of Txtual Healing is that people send texts to a phone number and they are shown on projectors on the sides of buildings. Although no one has to be standing near the screen in order to text the number, many groups of people gather around and send texts so that they can see their texts on the wall. The scope of this type of media was small enough that it could thrive for its intended duration.
Another example of some of the faults that can come through in locative narratives are typical historical tours that tell you the history of certain places as you walk from area to area. One place where many of these fail is that the user can usually click on a certain landmark and read about it without actually having to walk to that place. While the designers certainly assumed people would want to connect the stories with what they see around them, the user ends up perceiving the description as valuable enough to not want to walk to that landmark.
While I’m not an expert on locative media, there are many ways that this relatively new form of media can improve. Locking landmarks and descriptions until the user reaches that place is a good place to start. I also think it would help to make the description and wording of the story more visual. For example, instead of describing an event that happened at this place, walk the listener through the event, create the setting around them, point out specific landmarks, and let them connections between what the narrator is saying and what they are seeing.
From the perspective of a young adult like myself, one of the generations that is often criticized for laziness, it is easy to see how these locative narratives can improve. My generation was exposed to them through Pokemon GO, and I believe that as we get older we will be able to bring a new perspective on the games or narratives and help them evolve into something better and more appealing.