Tag Archives: Pokemon

Pokemon Go – Where Is It Now?

Last month, we had three great posts about the new big phenomenon – Pokemon Go. I’ll include a link to each of these at the end of this post. But it’s been a month and a half or so of the game now… where is it now?

I think it’s lost a lot of people, certainly a lot of daily constant play and obsession. It certainly lost Holly and I. On the other hand, I know of people (like podcast hosts I hear from) who are still playing, or in fact one at least who hasn’t returned to podcasting yet because of the game.

In many ways, it sounds like an incomplete game, with plans for future features. During this time, they were working on rolling out internationally and dealt with some of their big initial problems. It’s like the initial release of a game like World of Warcraft – big group expecting it, big group at the start, more than they expected. And the growing pains to go with that. We got into that game much later, which is a good time to get in, because those early growing pains can be difficult.

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Pokemon GO Is The New Devil And Other Thoughts.

So, unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, you know by now that the world is gone a little mad for Pokémon Go. I’m one of probably three people in the world who hasn’t played the game yet, so you might wonder why exactly I’m choosing to write about it. My connection to Pokémon began about 1998 when my nephews discovered the anime series. It wasn’t long before they started collecting cards and playing (*gasp*) Pokemon video games.

One of the boys is on the Autism spectrum and, at 8 years old, had probably said a total of 5 words to me in his entire life. He had enough verbal communication to keep up with the kids in his school and get his daily needs met, but talking for social reasons was just not his thing. Our conversations usually went like this:

“Me–Hey Kid, how you doing?
Kid–*shrug*
Me–What game are you playing?
Kid–*stares at video game in hands*
Me–Looks like fun.
Kid–Mm.
Me–*sits down to stare at book in hands for the next two hours*
Kid–*plunks down and stares at game some more*”

I was pretty sure we understood each other. We were both nerds engaging in a moment of nerd-companionship and didn’t need a whole lot of conversation to communicate. He liked his games the same way that I like my books.

I could be totally positive though. Sometimes I wondered if he thought it was annoying or if he thought much about me at all. Then one day the conversation changed.

“Me–Hey Kid, how you doing?
Kid–*shrug*
Me–What game are you playing?
Kid–Pokémon Red.
Me–*tilting head like a dog* Like the show?
Kid–Kind of. *goes back to game*
Me–*sits down to stare at book in hands for the next two hours*
Kid–*plunks down and stares at game some more* *while still playing, randomly startts explaining entire plot of the anime, gameplay and differences between show and games, then LEAVES ROOM and returns with collection of cards and toys to show me*
Me–O..O *puts book down*”

Now, fortunately for us, my nerd superpower is the ability to absorb and follow vast quantities of complex information and detail without batting an eyelash. At the time, my mission in life was to be the cool aunt that followed the kids’ stuff and could talk about it, both with them and with parents who needed to know what it was about. That day, I spent about three hours talking to my nephew about all things Pokémon, because I valued him and that I was willing to take seriously something that mattered to him, even if I personally found it less exciting.

That’s called being a nice person, for anyone keeping notes.  This concept of nice people will come up again.

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Pokemon Go – Gotta Catch the Socialness!

My daily commute takes me through Pioneer Courthouse Square (in Portland, Oregon). During both the weekday morning and evening commutes, unless there’s a specific event or protest going on, there usually aren’t too many people just hanging out. A few tourists, perhaps a few people taking a break in their evening, but mostly those hours see the bustle of commuters on their way home from work.

Last week, though, I encountered something completely different. One day, in particular, there was a pretty decent sized crowd of people sitting on the steps. There were even people gathered around the small ampitheater off to the side. Most were looking at, and swiping at, their phones. Many of them were playing Pokémon Go.

With three PokéStops (with Lures active on them most of the time), and a Gym, it’s a good place to set up camp. And, from the way the colors of the Gym were changing quickly, it was clear some teams had come together to try taking control. I saw people smiling, laughing, occasionally cheering, and staring at their phones in intense concentration. Mostly they were in clusters of two or three, but sometimes those groups were larger and a few seemed to merge into much larger groups as people realized they were sitting alongside teammates.

Most of this group has found their way to this Pokemon hub to play a bit on their lunch breaks!

Most of this group has found their way to this Pokemon hub to play a bit on their lunch breaks!

The game has its faults, certainly, but there are also a lot of great things about it, and I’m really enjoying watching the social aspect. It’s been an awesome tool to get people to come together in a social manner. A number of restaurants and businesses are starting to offer perks to Pokémon Trainers as a way to encourage them to come and stay a while (and, of course, spend some money). Even the National Park Service is getting in on the game!

The game actively encourages the players to go out and move, to wander around in search of elusive Pokémon and then come to certain, central, places to interact with other people who are in that same location. While the concept is certainly not new it has become so fiercely popular that the groups gathering are more noticeable. In the short time that the game has been out it’s already made a difference – a visible difference – in the way that people are acting in and interacting with their world.

I’ve seen families out on Pokémon gathering walks. I’ve overheard conversations about the game occurring between people who would not normally be interacting with one another.

A mother and daughter spending some time at lunch hunting Pokemon

A mother and daughter spending some time at lunch hunting Pokemon

At my local parks I’ve seen more people of all ages out and about in the beautiful weather than I’m used to seeing. I’ve joined a local Pokémon Go group on Facebook and a variety of events have already been organized.  It’s amazing the places that this game has been making an active difference.

I know that I’m not the only one making these observations, there are so many anecdotal accounts, people sharing their stories and the ways that they’ve already been seeing community growing and coming together because of the game.

I love hearing these stories. It’s awesome to see technology serving to help people get out and build bridges between each other — especially in this time when there are so many divides being built between us.

Do you play? Have you experienced the game bringing people together at all?

Augmented Reality in Designed Spaces

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.

Museum

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.

Casino

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.

City Streets

Pokemon Go logo

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.

Conclusion

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?