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Pokémon Go crazy

28 July 2016

This augmented reality game has risen off the charts and in a matter of days, evolved the way people use technology. Is this phenomenon crazy or genius?

Released at the beginning of July, Pokémon Go quickly topped the gaming charts in the US and Australia. Designed to be played in a virtual reality space, it encourages users of all ages to walk around attempting to catch ‘invisible’ Pokémon. 

What’s great about this game is its demonstration of the physical and digital world coinciding. It’s the first time we have seen an augmented reality game become so popular and impact on society so profoundly. This gives game-makers and technology designers a fantastic opportunity to observe how people of different ages interact with technology. 

Mauro Vallati, Senior lecturer at University of Huddersfield writes in his article for The Conversation, “To some extent, what is just starting to happen with Pokémon Go can be seen as an anticipation of what will happen when fully-autonomous systems – such as robots – invade our lives. Delivery drones, driverless cars, and companion robots are currently being tested and are likely to become common in the near future. As with Pokémon Go, new ways of social interaction will be unleashed, and new types of incidents and misuse possibilities will be discovered.”

“There is no clear prediction of how this technology will change our lives, besides some obvious moral dilemmas that will inevitably emerge, such as whether an autonomous car should swerve to avoid a child but hit an adult. But technology such as the augmented reality of Pokémon is revealing a few elements already. Our habits and rules will evolve in order to accommodate autonomous systems, but evolution will come at a price.”

Pokemon Go (Credit: Shutterstock)

This evolution has already come at a price. Numerous reports of accidents and incidents have been reported across the UK, one specific one being a man accused of stopping in the middle of the motorway to catch Pikachu, causing hours of delays. People are actually physically bumping into eachother in the high-street and walking into the middle of roads, some schools in the UK have even banned students from playing on the premises. 

It also opens up queries of privacy. The game requires players to interact with their environment using realistic maps of their surroundings, meaning buildings, gardens and grounds that were once deemed private are now being infiltrated by Pokémon players. 

Andres Guadamuz, senior lecturer in intellectual property law at the University of Sussex, writes in his article for The Conversation, “Pokémon Go is just the beginning of a new world of location-based data applications, and we need to find better ways to protect our digital rights in that space.”

Despite both the positive and negative comments surrounding Pokémon Go, it is a great example of how far technology has advanced. To think this is just the beginning of augmented reality, give it a few years (or less) and players might be able to custom design battle arenas in their own garden or get the characters to physically interact with surrounding objects. Of course it doesn’t all have to focus on Pokémon, imagine being able to virtually walk onto the set of your favourite TV show or movie, the possibilities are endless!


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