Pokémon Go

So after fighting against downloading it I gave in to Pokémon Go and joined in the cultural phenomenon. It’s only been 4 days but I’m addicted and already on level 9. The most recent figures released on Tuesday suggests that 30 million people have downloaded the app since it was launched. With the release in Japan yesterday and more countries being on the way I am sure this number is only set to rise. It is a great use of technology using map overlaying and augmented reality. Pokémon Go allows people to escape real world pressures and get active at the same time.

Working in Manchester City Centre I often go for walks at lunchtime down the canal systems or to the green spaces in the city centre to escape the bustle of the city. Since the game release the once quiet paths are now full of office workers walking the street in hope of catching their missing Pokémon and growing them in strength by fighting and training them at the many gyms.

Pokémon launched in 1996 when I was just 7 years old, alike with all children of that time, we collected and swapped trading cards, hunting out the best shiny’s we could. We spent every last pence of our pocket money on cards and never missed an episode of the tv programme. This game has really played on the imaginations of us all giving us that feeling of being a child again.

The interface is great, it’s simple and self explanatory and has great user experience, no instructions needed and creative focusing on the Pokémon themselves. If you haven’t played it theres some visuals below, the goal is for you to have to walk around the physical world to capture virtual Pokémon. They pop up and you then have to catch them into Pokéballs, the higher the attack points the harder to capture. You can collect extra balls from Pokéstops, which are landmarks and places and then selected ones are gyms where you train and battle your collected Pokémon.

pokemonEveryone is talking about this app, love it or hate it. It has hit the media too, being met in many lights. Some have focused on how it’s a way to get people active in a fun way. Others have focused on the bad things that have happened for example people walking into roads and getting injured or having phones stolen, blaming the app for these. I think if your walking into roads or walking around with no sense of safety then it really isn’t the app fault you should always be aware of your surroundings.

With anything there will be negative opinions and news but I always like to look at the positives. I read a great article about the game being used to encourage children in hospital to get them active again after being poorly. It’s giving people who usually drive to explore there towns and cities and meeting new people. It has been reported that children with autism and fears of going outside it has helped them feel confident enough to go outside and improve even make new friends, improving their social skills. There was a great story about a dog shelter in America using it to get more volunteers to walk the dogs without homes, leveraging the popularity of Pokémon Go. It’s been bringing families together, giving them a common thing to talk about and bond over by going out on day trips to hunt for Pokémon together. So there is negatives of course and I’d always say stay safe, these are some pretty amazing things as a massive positive.

I feel this is just the beginning step for augmented reality becoming popular and mainstream. Google attempted it with the google glasses however it was never adopted well and brought many ethical questions about privacy. It will be exciting to see who adopts this technology for the future. I think the Pokémon Go is only just beginning with this game and there is many scope for development, having more training areas to develop your Pokémon or adding a social element, so people could team up in the game with there avatars. I will be continuing to catch them all and eagerly waiting for the next updates.