I just unlocked the Iron GM badge on GameSextant  and I’m about to become the Seneschal of the LFGS if I visit it again this week. Well, maybe if such a thing existed. If you’re a technophile with a smartphone, chances are you’ve heard of social geolocation sites/apps like Foursquare  or Gowalla.  These location-based mobile social networks allow you to announce what you’re doing and gain rewards for visiting new venues and many other behaviors.
While such social networks are not without peril when used by the unwary,  I think such little addictive apps like Foursquare could be quite useful in increasing participation in such things as organized play, hobby store shopping, conventions, or even private gaming groups.
What is Geolocation
According to Wikipedia, geolocation is the identification of the real-world geographic location of an Internet-connected computer, mobile device, website visitor or other. IP address geolocation data can include information such as country, region, city, postal/zip code, latitude, longitude and time zone.
So basically, an mobile social network that utilizes geolocation will grab the address of a device (most likely a smartphone) using the device’s built in GPS or by surveying the local cell phone towers for a rough estimate. It then cross references that address with a database of local venues and allows the user to check-in. It then updates the user’s social network with relevant information.
Well, whenever someone checks into a venue, such as a convention, friendly local gaming store, or other gaming event, the app will broadcast a message saying as much across many social networks (or at least as many supported by the app and approved by the user). It’s free advertisement!
The killer part is people want to do this. I have found myself want to vigorously defend the mayorships I have earned at certain locations through FourSquare. It’s about bragging rights (meaningless, but bragging rights all the same). And venues can encourage such behavior by offering specials for people who have earned such trivial rewards. An example would be a monthly $5 award for the current mayor come the deadline.
Organized play societies could tie in with the network and offer free stuff to the most dedicated GMs and players. Exhibitors could make a game out of visiting certain booths and events at a convention. Private gaming groups now have a surefire method of figuring out who is immune to being the wipey bitch (what my group calls the guy that has to wipe off the battlemat and record initiative scores).
What Do You Think?
Is it too gimmicky? Do grognards even use smartphones, or do they still communicate via smoke signals and telegraph? What ways can you think of to utilize this technology within the realm of roleplaying games?
If you’re interesting in finding out more about how roleplaying games can use technology, check out my other articles on technology.
 GameSextant is my own conceptual version of a location-based mobile social network engineered specifically to enhance the gaming lifestyle. It does not actually exist (yet).
 Foursquare is a location-based mobile social network that allows you to check into locations found nearby utilizing the phone’s location awareness (via GPS or triangulation). Foursquare has awards called badges that can be earned by certain behaviors.
 Gowalla is an application very similar to Foursquare. 
 Please Rob Me was stunt website that aggregated everyone’s location-based messages. It highlighted how the unscrupulous could take advantage of such information to break into your home while you’re not there, or worse…
 Wikipedia’s Geolocation Entry.
Listening to: Black Light Burns – Cruel Melody – Cruel Melody