I’m sure by now you’re all aware of Pokémon GO, if however you’ve been living under a rock, or actually have responsibilities which prevent you from wasting your life looking at memes, Pokémon GO is Nintendo’s new Augmented Reality mobile game.
With Pokémon GO, players are put in the role of a Pokémon
slaver trainer where you hunt down everyone’s favourite Japanese monsters, so you can trap them in tiny balls and make them fight for your amusement. The major difference however between Pokémon GO and Pokémon *insert colour/gemstone here* is that now you actually have to get off your backside and find the cute little bundles of nostalgia in your neighbourhood.
With smartphone in hand, the player must head to ‘Pokéstops’ where they can find familiar Pokémon just hanging out, who they can then throw their Pokéballs at to catch them as per usual. Certain real world locations are marked as Pokémon Gyms, where players can pit their newly acquired
slaves Pokémon against those of other players, in a bid to take control of the gym in a sort of 90’s kid’s virtual turf war.
Overall the game has been a huge success, with it being the cause of an over $7bn rise in Nintendo’s value, and more importantly the cause of thousands of glorious memes. It also is the first proper time where the positive externalities that have been pegged as a result of VR/AR gaming have really come to fruition. Thousands of people who would normally have spent their day in a chair in front of a computer screen; have been spending their day in the glorious outdoors, interacting with other trainers, in front of their smartphone screen.
However there have also been some unintended consequences, with one woman fromWyoming in the US finding a dead body in a river whilst looking for a water type Pokémon – although it could have been worse, she could have found a Magikarp – and an Australian man has been fired from his job in Singapore after complaining that the game is only available in the US, Australia and New Zealand.
Pokémon GO has also raised eyebrows of the potential impact of AR vs VR, given that virtual reality currently lies on the fringes of the gaming world, whilst everyone and their Nan seems to be playing the first big AR title Pokémon GO. Having said that, we’re not convinced. The argument seems to echo the sentiments of the mobile gaming world in the late noughties, which never really had too much of an impact beyond allowing you to throw birds at pigs whilst having a dump.
Also, there is the unmistakeable fact that the unprecedented success of Pokémon GO is most likely down to it being ‘Pokémon’, and should it have been a VR title instead, we could have seen a massive surge in Occulus or Vive activity and interest. Either way, it’s an amazing game which has done well to both bring AR/VR to public attention and instil nostalgia in an entire generation.