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Department of Geography

#78: Expeditions from the window: How do you perceive your surroundings?

Playfully generating data for research: Gamification is an attractive approach, especially in times of COVID-19. PhD student Manuel Bär wants to know how people perceive the landscape in their immediate surroundings.

Window Expeditions: Writing about the amazing world outside your windows or balconies.

What do Uetliberg and the Matterhorn have in common? They are both parts of landscapes valued by locals and visitors. But how do individuals perceive these landscapes and how does this vary between individuals, languages or cultures? My PhD aims to collect written descriptions of landscapes to explore these questions.

Playful approaches for data collection

To do so, I want to move away from traditional methods like questionnaires towards more playful approaches - think Pokémon GO. I'm developing a location-based game aimed at collecting data about landscapes from people moving around in the real world and making it fun and competitive.

However, COVID-19 brought testing to an abrupt stop, as we were all asked to minimise our time outside. At a virtual conference, colleagues and I brainstormed other ways of collecting landscape descriptions, even when people are in lockdown, quarantine or isolation. From these discussions emerged Window Expeditions - an online app where I ask people to write about the amazing world outside their windows or balconies, and explore other people's contributions. In doing so, I also hope to reduce the feeling of isolation.

First results are promising, with testers aged from under 12 to almost 80 enthusiastically contributing to building a map describing their everyday landscapes.

Do you want to participate? Then you can find the German version here and the English version here.

Manuel Bär


Weiterführende Informationen


Window Expeditions