Playing with Traffic: An Emerging Methodology for Developing Gamified Mobility Applications

Playing with Traffic: An Emerging Methodology for Developing Gamified Mobility Applications

Martin Kracheel (Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg), Rod McCall (Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg) and Vincent Koenig (EMACS Research Unit & Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8583-3.ch005
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Abstract

This chapter explores a novel methodology used to develop gamified mobility applications for a heavily congested European city. The methodology consists of three elements: a metaphorical traffic game, a complex and comprehensive mobility logging approach and two focus groups. The daily commute is explained as part of a real life traffic game that changes user behaviour. The methodology allows for the identification of travel activity patterns and attitudes that in turn can be used to develop gamified mobility applications. The chapter provides concrete game elements and design considerations that can be used to improve the traffic experience in Luxembourg.
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To understand something as a game is not only to seek its fun, entertainment and diversion, but also to recognize a variable and unpredictable order, the interaction of chance and control, of freedom and necessity... The game has to do with beauty and joy but also with accepting destiny that may triumph mercilessly over the fate of the individual. ...

The computer may like the mathematics be a toy. What are the consequences if games not only become increasingly sophisticated and complex, but when in education and science the same structures are used and when game theory becomes the foundation of our social actions? – Rötzer (1996) about: Schöne neue Welten. Auf dem Weg zu einer neuen Spielkultur (1995), translated by authors

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Introduction

Growing traffic and the various problems it creates are currently a cause for concern in many countries and new approaches are being developed in order to address these issues. Existing methods include centralised approaches, decentralised approaches and the (re-) designation or creation of infrastructures. Centralised approaches comprise of electronic monitoring and advisory systems, that collect sensor data with static infrastructure on major roads and process it in a traffic control center from which the corrections are displayed on the network using digital roadside signs. The downside of these approaches is the cost of the technology. Decentralised approaches, such as vehicular or mobile ad-hoc networks (VANET/ MANET), are less costly since they allow mobility participants to be notified about instances on the road ahead without having to send the data to a control center. However, their use is still very limited due to different standards and transmission delays (Bronzi, Frank & Castignani 2014). Other approaches include (re-) designating infrastructure, such as creating priority lanes for shared vehicles in Seattle (USA) or cycle lanes instead of roads in Tübingen (Germany). Yet the unique character of every commute is not taken into account and although daily commutes might look very similar, they usually involve complex motivations and decisions.

We take a novel approach that takes into account various existing mobility behaviours. The I-GEAR project (Incentives and Gaming Environment for Automotive Routing) (McCall, Kracheel, & Koenig, 2012a; McCall & Koenig, 2012c) explores how to change mobility behaviour through gamified mobile applications in Luxembourg. Luxembourg is an interesting case for a mobility behaviour study because on average 226 k commuters travel every day to this relatively small (2586 km2) country. The majority of them are cross-border commuters from the Greater Region; from France (108 k), Belgium (61 k) and Germany (57 k). Almost half of them head to Luxembourg City (Figure 1). Luxembourg City is the capital and with 107.2 k inhabitants the biggest city. However, a commuter inbound of around 75% of the total of the city’ inhabitants generates substantial challenges for the road infrastructure and the traffic management. Another, self-inflicted problem is the high rate of vehicle ownership with around 431 k motor vehicles registered in Luxembourg compared to an overall population of only 549.7 k inhabitants (STATEC, 2014).

Figure 1.

Daily cross-border commutes to Luxembourg

(Schmitz, 2012, p. 21)

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