The recently released game Pokémon Go has taken the world by storm, as gamers and mobile phone users get sucked into the new trend of ‘augmented reality’.
An augmented reality game superimposes a digital game over the fabric of the world, with players accessing it through their GPS- and internet-enabled smartphones. It’s considered a breakthrough since the Nintendo handheld consoles by designer Satoshi Tajiri launched in the series in 1995. Two days after launch on 6 June 2016, it was installed on over five per cent of Android devices in the US, was being used more than Twitter, and was earning $1.6 million a day on the US App Store.
Professional gamer and gaming consultant, Matthew Fig, explained to VOC how Pokémon Go is played. Being an augmented reality game that entails game play overlaying reality, the game mainly utilises mapping so it includes the actual areas of an individual’s home town. This way a player can go around and find Pokémons, although in order to catch one the app activates your camera and you will be able to see the Pokémon. After this a player throws out a Poké Ball to capture the Pokémon.
Pokémon Go, to an extent, is an introduction to virtual reality, as virtual reality is definitely growing. However, from a technical view point Pokémon Go as a game is limited, but as a social feature it is “fantastic”, said Fig. Additionally, the game does not require an individual to be an expert at games or Pokémon, as anyone can play it.
Apart from Pokémon Go being a game, there is a huge nostalgia aspect attached to it. Pokémon has been around since the late nineties and over the years pieces of this franchise has come out in some gaming consoles. However, the success of the game is due to the fact that now it has been released in a mainstream level of accessibility—your cell phones.
Another aspect of this game that makes it successful among the players is the socialising that comes with going out to find Pokémon.
“It has given me another reason to go out and meet up with my friends, which I find is a really cool element. Generally with social media you sit on your butt and like posts from the comfort of your home, rarely do you go out and get some exercise. This game forces you to leave your house and this is why I believe it is successful,” said social media consultant and the most followed Instagrammer in Africa, Gareth Pon.
Pokemon Go can be a huge distraction and be a safety risk. In South Africa, walking around with a cellphone in dodgy areas can make you an easy target for robbers or muggers. There is the also the potential of searching for Pokemons in remote or dangerous places, which opens the gamer to other risks. Its been widely reported that o ne player went out in search of Pokémon and found a dead body instead.
And just like texting on a cellphone, playing the game while driving can cause accidents.
As the result of the complaints the game has been receiving due to players being harmed while hunting for Pokémons, Pon responded by advising players to always be aware of your surroundings.
“Like everything that becomes popular there are certain precautions that need to take place. It also boils down to the individual, you can’t blame an application because someone decided to play while driving,” Pon added.
VOC (Ammarah Qureshi)