Glastonbury enables breakthrough in mobile games at festivals

Increased connectivity at festivals means Joining the Dots winner Paul Archer is one step closer to launching his live music gaming app.

We have been working on ChallengeOff, a game platform that allows people to challenge each other and be a judge to find the best.  As part of the Joining the Dot’s award, we will be testing the game within the music industry and the obvious route for this game has always been to get people to play at festivals.  However, there have always been a few key stumbling blocks with mobile games at festivals:

  • Data
  • Battery
  • Interest

However, I write this beneath the haze of the post Glastonbury blues and I believe that mobile games can finally work at Festivals, and here’s why.


Many phones vs few phone masts mean that even the chances of reaching your friends for a chat are slim, so you can count data out.  However at Glastonbury this year, EE threw everything they had at it, erected multiple 4G masts and even had WIFI spots for extra data.  The result was the best festival network I have ever experienced.  Not only could you call friends and texts were received (and not three hours later!) but you could upload photos, check data and even email.  It now seems that a vital piece of festival infrastructure are extra mobile masts, and this is good news for us.  We reckon Glastonbury this year was the first festival in the UK outside of a major city that a mobile game could actually be played!


Obviously five days in a tent means charging your phone is a challenge and many people will be familiar with the idea of an old Nokia 3310 they use as their ‘Festival Phone’.  However, people seem to be finding ways to combat this so they can stay in touch with the smartphone world.  People are learning ways to conserve battery better – often by switching off various apps and dimming their screen so much they spend their time squinting into their darkened Facebook feed – and ways to charge them more effectively from a tent.  Although iPhone’s batteries are fixed, many Android devices have removable batteries so people simply buy a few fully charged spares.  Then there’s various extra battery pack options for charging devices.  EE waded in again this year with a battery pack exchange system where they would sell you a branded battery for £20 and let you swap it for a fully charged one when it ran out.  The queues however were still huge and £20 seemed a bit steep…  I’m excited for the launch of Petalite by next festival season – a 15 minute charge leaves more time for dancing your socks off in Shangri La!

Paul Archer explains the thinking behind ChallengeOff.


The very first festival we ran a mobile game at was Oktoberfest in Munich last year.  It was a disaster.  Although we had loads of interest from (sober) revellers in the morning to partake in a challenge game build around the festival site, the actual result was poor.  Half the teams that had paid good money to play returned (often still in vomit covered lederhosen) to tell us that they had drunk so much they had lost their phones!  The idea of a festival is often to forget about the world and responsibilities, so remembering to try and beat another team at a game is tough.  However one thing that seemed to run true throughout this year’s data and battery filled Glastonbury was the desire to broadcast quite how much fun you’re having to your less fortunate friends at home, with SnapChats and Instagrams flying around.  For this reason, we have built ChallengeOff to focuss around using a game to broadcast your life to your friends.  Unfortunately you’ll just have to wait until its release to see how this works, so watch this space!

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