augmented reality meets mobile gaming: the future plays outside

The Pokémon Company and Niantic Labs show how it’s done, others must be following their lead soon: the company enters new territory with the augmented reality mobile game „Pokémon Go“. The response is outstanding.

Childhood dreams become reality in a way that they were not expected to. Just like Ash, Misty and Rocko, now we can go for Pokémon hunts and catch the cute and not-so-cute creatures. Whereas in the past, we were only able to be a part of the Pokémon world by playing the cards or through the use of Nintendo Gameboy Classic, we can now enter the world in a way that is unbelievably close to reality.

The bottom line of the game is to catch as many Pokémon as possible and to make them pop out of their shells by walking as many distances as possible. The players can join one of three teams and try to conquer arenas. At several places there are Pokémon to catch, the locations may vary from one moment to another. The map is developed by no one less than the Google Earth and Google Maps developers themselves.

Although it is with great relief (especially for parents) to recognize the gamers leaving their rooms and actively spending time at the fresh air, the dependence that they expose themselves to is distressing. The closeness to reality increases the fun factor and the fascination over the game. A game without an ending. Like it is usually the case nowadays. The opportunity of playing anywhere and at any time makes for a wasted search of a quiet, peaceful place. The urge of accessing the game (just because it’s possible to do so) is overwhelming. Pokémon locations are chosen randomly. Children wandering around in search of non-existing creatures. As much joy the new game experience brings, the risk of compulsive gambling rises by the omnipresence.

The effect of a healthier lifestyle due to the game mostly taking place outside and the greatness of the experience for the players are the only arguments to look upon favorably. What is the next level? Where does this version of augmented reality lead us? Can we consider as pure improvement of the status quo just because gamers get off their couches?

Should people really spend all their time staring at a screen, wandering around without anything like appreciation, graciousness, let alone awareness of the beauty of nature which they are surrounded by – in real life that is?

-your tiny woman in a giant world

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