Every space is a learning space. Thanks to the rapidly increasing adoption of mobile communications and wireless technologies, language educators are now empowered to sculpt interactions and design learning experiences using the real world as their canvas. City streets, shopping centres, cafés and cemeteries can be augmented with new layers of meaning and narrative as learner/players use their language skills to navigate the chaotic and unpredictable environment of everyday life and achieve their objectives.
Spatially expanded games provide a natural way to situate language production in context-rich, authentic settings, in contrast to the comparatively sterile confines of the traditional classroom. They are multimodal, multi-sensory and highly immersive experiences. In this session I intend to explore the learning potential of technology-enhanced urban games and the pedagogic and philosophical foundations upon which I base these ideas. I will also critique current trends in gamification and propose a more ethical way forward. To illustrate this, I will provide an example of an ongoing research project that spans two cities in the north of Portugal, sharing my experience of several cycles of organising the game and my role as a participant observer. At this juncture I will play and display some of the audio, video, text and photographs that were generated through gameplay. To conclude, I will suggest ways in which easily available, off-the-shelf technologies can be combined to provide the scaffolding for their development and the potential pitfalls that a teacher-as-game-designer might encounter.