What is Pokemon GO?
Pokemon Go is a augmented reality game that is played by downloading a free app onto a smart device like an IPhone or Android phone. The game brings the old trading card game Pokemon into the 21st century by allowing players to go and try to catch all of the Pokemon monsters. These monsters range from common, to rare, to nearly impossible to find. The monsters also vary by area and region so a Pokemon that is common at the beach will not be found at the dessert and European Pokemon will vary from the American ones. Once a player catches several they can start fighting their strongest Pokemon at real world augmented reality Gyms that are located in public areas. The players just need to show up, choose a team, and fight their strongest monster against the Pokemon that is there. If they win, the their team will be on the gym until they are beat by a stronger monster. This gives incentive to train the Pokemon to be the strongest.
So what is Augmented Reality? Augmented reality blends the lines between reality and the gaming world. When it comes to Pokemon, the “pocket monsters” will pop up in real world locations. One can be sitting at a restaurant and a “Pidgy”, one of the more common Pokemon, could pop up on the table. The Pidgy can be caught right then and there during dinner if the player chooses. While actually walking around, various Pokemon pop up randomly, and notify the player with a slight vibration of the phone. The Gyms are set in various locations and Pokemon players have to actually go to them to play. Some people who frequent the augmented reality gyms say that there are times when they look up from their phone they are surprised not to see the huge Pokemon gym standing before them. After a long time playing the lines between the game and the real world do seem a bit blurry.
Anyone can play Pokemon Go. There are cases of the game being introduced into nursing homes to encourage the elderly to explore more, enjoy more physical activity, and interact with people while playing. The game is enjoyed by people who are in their twenties and thirties who enjoyed playing while they were kids and teens, and people of the same age bracket who never played the game. Teens took the the game, and there seems to be a trend of later curfews and less supervision near Pokespots due to the community feel of the game. At busy Pokespots and walking trails that are laden with Gyms families can be seen wandering around, trying to “catch them all”, as can lone teens on skateboards soaring down paths walking their eggs at a fast pace and catching each spinner as it refreshes, and groups of friends belonging to one of the teams taking the Gym base back when one of the other teams take it. So far the game has brought people out of the house much more and has had people from all walks of life communicating as they all play this one game. The summer of ‘16 may have opened the door for more augmented reality games, just like Pokemon Go.