Unless you are living under a rock you have heard about the new craze of Pokemon Go. It is an augmented reality game where people get to use their phones to wander around in the real world and catch Pokemon. As long as you have an internet connection and a smart phone you can start playing. The number of people who have started playing is pretty amazing. People are getting out in droves to hunt for Pokemon. At the same time this new augmented reality game has changed the way that we interact with the world around us, which becomes interesting when we think about immersive spaces.
A friend shared an early story on social media about Pokemon Go and the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. The Holocaust Museum is designed to immerse people in the horrors of that time period and instead people are layering their experience by playing the game in the museum. They are taking these specifically designed spaces and changing their mean by using the augmented reality. Now the Holocaust Museum is a pretty extreme example of this, but this is not the only space that could be affected by this new technology.
The Holocaust Museum is not the only museum where this could potentially be disturbing to the environment. Museums are spaces that are designed to bring people into a specific place and time period. It is designed with a specific purpose in mind and you are meant to walk through the space in a specific way. Yet when you add on this new augmented reality game on top of this space it changes how you experience the space. Instead of allowing yourself to be in this museum space you are allowing yourself to be somewhere else at the same time, which distracts from the experience.
Another place that is all about the experience is a casino. These are places that are designed to lead people to specific locations to get them to spend money. I imagine that most casinos would not be happy about the use of Pokemon Go in the casino itself since it would distract people from the use of the slots and the tables. The casino wants people in certain areas because that is where they will spend money, but it is not like the game is set up to work in that way or to lead people in any particular direction.
Theme Parks, Zoos, etc.
Now you want to talk about a space that leads people in a specific direction you just have to go to a theme park, zoo, or something similar to see how spaces get designed to lead people. They are meant to distract and amaze people so that they don’t notice the back-end, or to help lead people to the attractions. When people are playing Pokemon Go or any sort of augmented reality game then suddenly they are led by the game and not by what they are experiencing in the real world. Suddenly you are catching Pokemon as you are experiencing the characters, animals, sights, and sounds in these specially designed spaces.
Now the place that there has been the biggest problem is simply the city streets. These are spaces that are designed to lead pedestrians, bike riders, and vehicles in specific ways for them all to get where they are going safely. Then you add this new space on top of an existing space and you change the way people use it. This has caused some serious issues where people are walking into areas of town they shouldn’t be or not paying attention while driving, walking, etc.
Virtual reality allows us to enter into an entirely different space, but augmented reality changes the space that we are currently in. The problem is that there is a design to the spaces that we live in that are meant to guide us in a certain way. Then when you add this new layer onto that space it changes how we interact with that space, which breaks the design of said space.
What do you think about the augmented reality of Pokemon Go?