What is Aachen Horror?

Well, first, it’s a pun on the popular tabletop game Arkham Horror.

The first idea about a locative game was born out of frustration. I am a pen & paper roleplayer (also called tabletop role-player). A couple of years ago, I would have had to say “I was”, though, because once I graduated from university and started a job (at university, being a doctorate student in Germany is actually a job with contract, work hours and all) time to play got sparse.

I realized that at least in my case leaving the hobby be was not because I had grown out of it, but rather because organizing a group of players, preparing the game, sticking with a given setting over a potentially long time, and so on is a lot harder to do when you have less time on your hands.

So the first idea was to design some sort of mechanism or technology that allows people to play whenever they had time during the day. This is one of the core ideas behind Aachen Horror and we will hopefully get this done right.

For people unfamiliar with tabletop role-playing games this might seem weird, after all, there’s a whole genre of computer games called “Role-Playing Games”, or RPGs, right? Well, on closer inspection, these games actually have a completely differing user experience. Even the so called “massively multiplayer online role-playing games” (MMORPGs) usually don’t yield in the same kind of immersion a classic P&P RPG offers. I’m not saying one is worse than the other, they’re just different. Without gong into too much detail here I think it’s safe to say that the difference is comparable to that between a book and a movie.

For a lot of P&P RPGs, experiencing the immersion into a fictional world that only exists in your mind and that of your friends is fundamental. Like in all hobbies, participants argue about this all the time and there’s quite a discussion going on about what exactly a RPG consists of, but all in all, this is a concept that many players agree on, so I am confident to cover at least a large sub-space of the genre.

The concluding question is that if traditional computer RPGs fail to provide or support the same kind of immersion that is goal of a traditional P&P RPG, can’t we use computers in a different way to support these traditional games, then?

Since I felt that the organizational effort traditional RPGs often demand is quite a hassle, one major aspect of our approach is supposed to tackle that. The locative approach then simply results from the fact that people already are in a city and move around in it all the time. This is something that they have in common with the fictional characters they play in the game, so using location-aware technology we can hopefully “merge” this, freeing the players from investing additional time for meeting at a given place together, then imaginatively go somewhere else again.

On a closing note I want to point out that the initial frustration is luckily no more: I found a group of new players and we managed to reserve time to come together and play, even if it is only every now and then. As a matter of fact, I’ll have a game evening beginning in less than two hours, so wish me and the mage I’m gonna play luck storming the castle. 🙂

2 thoughts on “What is Aachen Horror?

  1. I had the following thought while reading this one:

    In some tabletops, e.g. http://www.wizards.com/dnd/, there is a special role of the moderator. I am not really into these kind of games but he can make decisions whether to allow a player to perform a given action or not. Thus maybe stimulating imaginative creativity.

    It’s not really a great idea but might serve as a starting point for something nice

    • If you’re referring to the DM (dungeon master), that’s the “standard” of most traditional tabletop RPGs. As a matter of fact, I’ve done that myself, so if you wanna know how it works I can tell you (offline :)).

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