The other day the D&D Facebook page made a mention of using a 2d/QR Barcode for gaming purposes
. The comments include a lot of people confused by what a 2d barcode is
. But it also included some very interesting ideas for using barcodes for gaming purposes.
For my purposes, the most interesting idea is to use it as an additional sensory system for a LARP. If you have a character that can detect magic, or sense electromagnetic fields or a werewolf heightened sense of smell, you give them a smartphone with a barcode scanner. Then put barcode stickers around the larp environment. A lot of stickers may only say "nothing of interest here", but relevant ones have useful info for the character, that they can share or not to other players as they see fit. (This has an added benefit, in that players would recognize that anything with a sticker must be important to the larp, and anything without is probably a real world object they needn't be concerned with.)
This augmented reality larping (hey, one step closer to Dream Park) would best fit with a science fiction larp, but could work for any game where one person can detect stuff other people cannot. "Tricorder readings indicate dangerous radiation levels, captain."
You do need a few iPhones or Android phones or similar devices capable of reading a barcode, of course. This shouldn't be too difficult for a modern gaming group, though you may want to talk with players about logistics (and/or cast iPhone owners as the mystically aware characters.) Barcode generating websites
exist on the internet, for easy GMing.
There are no doubt a huge number of awesome stuff to do with barcodes and tabletop games, as well.