Nokia turns commutes into games with mapping tech

Gamers don't think of Nokia in a particularly favorable light. The company has been largely quiet in the industry ever since the disastrous launch of the N-Gage. However, the company's most recent game showcases technology that's genuinely exciting.

DreamWorks Dragons Adventure is now available on Nokia Lumia 2520 tablets, and is available for free on most Lumia smartphones running Windows Phone 8. While the game is ultimately unremarkable, the tech running behind-the-scenes is impressive, and could be a valuable asset for Nokia as it moves away from hardware into software and services.

The key innovation of Dragons Adventure is how it combines GPS data and Nokia's HERE Maps into the game world. Players will play the game on real-life routes, populated with real-world landmarks, like gas stations, schools, etc. These landmarks become points of interest in the game, letting gamers pick up additional treasure.

The goal of Dragons Adventure is to turn a daily commute into an adventure, Nokia described. By setting an end destination, a child in the back seat will be able to play in a virtual version of the real world, seeing their wagon go through the same route as their car. Real-world elements, like traffic and weather, will also affect the game. If it's raining outside, for example, it will rain in the game. If there's traffic, mud will cover up the in-game roads, slowing down the player's progress.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the game is that it has a natural ending. Once you reach your destination, the game ends, giving kids a natural reason to stop playing.

While Nokia wouldn't confirm if they would license HERE Maps for other developers in an SDK, the company promises there's more to come with location-based games, saying Dragons Adventure is just the first step. "There is more to come with this amazing technology," Nokia's Bryan Biniak said.