Canterbury in 3 Words

Playful storytelling about places in Canterbury using the What3Words app

Canterbury in 3 Words is a location-based game in the form of a digital treasure hunt, challenging you to discover and share stories unique to the city of Canterbury.

Read stories written by other players and decipher the locations they describe using your knowledge of Canterbury and the What3Words app.

Each story must contain all three words that make up its location’s 3-word address on What3Words, alongside a photograph clue.

Challenge yourself and others to be the first to find each story location, and to find the most locations in total.

Critical Reflection

Canterbury in 3 Words was born out of a research project investigating the possibilities and challenges of location-based games for discovering and telling the diverse stories that make places meaningful to people.

Location-based games operate using GPS technology that typically serves instrumental purposes; the top-down ‘satellite view’ enabling us to identify points on the earth’s surface quickly and efficiently. What3Words itself aims to make “everywhere everything and everyone easy to find”. Yet in its use of words as signifiers of location, practices of storytelling using the platform also present opportunities for learning about and reimagining what makes the places we inhabit meaningful.

By taking the form of a treasure hunt, participants in Canterbury in 3 Words undertake a playful form of navigation that reconfigures forms of attention towards their surroundings. This can make them both newly aware of sites and stories they never knew existed, as well as re-enchanting familiar places by revealing previously unseen narratives.

Read more about how the project was conceived and developed here.

Paper presentation on Canterbury in 3 Words at the 20 Years of Seeing with GPS symposium, hosted by the Department of Digital Humanities at Kings College London on 12th June 2020.

About the creator

Jack Lowe is a cultural geographer, digital media artist and Visiting Lecturer in Digital Storytelling at Royal Holloway, University of London.

His practice-based PhD research involves independently developing location-based games to explore the potential of interactive digital media as platforms for storytelling about place.

Prior to creating Canterbury in 3 Words, Jack designed, wrote and directed The Timekeeper’s Return, an immersive story-based treasure hunt commissioned by Canterbury Cathedral Quarter, in which over 200 players found and scanned QR codes to discover little-known stories from Canterbury’s past.

Jack has also worked as a creative consultant for the StoryFutures Creative Cluster network on place and environment in digital narrative experiences, and completed a volunteership with four-times BAFTA-nominated interactive arts collective Blast Theory in 2016.