Intrigued by the ‘Pokémon Go’ frenzy that has taken over the world, I decided to download this free app on my iphone. The game required a nickname to play. With billions of players already on this app, finding a name challenged my creativity. My kids and I enjoyed coming up with some funny and weird names but to our surprise; they were all taken. Finally, we did succeed in coming up with a nickname after several tries and for which I am proud.
We were now ready to dive into the game.
I was alien to the term ‘augmented reality (AR)’ until I read about ‘Pokémon Go.’
AR technology is used to make Pokémon creatures appear on top of your real environment. These animated characters are only visible through the camera of your smartphone. The game captures your location and uses the map to guide you to the various Pokémon characters. Once you get close to the creature and tap on the button, you can catch them using pokéballs. The excitement and giggles spread as those animated characters jumped out of my hand and even appeared in our bathroom. We were on a roll until we were out of pokéballs. Apparently, you cannot catch the Pokémon creatures without the pokéballs. Bummer!!! But these balls are available at locations called pokéstops, shown on the map as ‘blue tower.’ Pokéstops are predetermined spots on the public places like parks, malls, museums. If you encounter a group of strangers walking like zombies with their phone in front of their faces, you can instantly guess that they are playing ‘Pokémon Go.’
Beware: This game can take you to places where you have never traversed before perhaps admiring its beauty (or not).
The good is that the Pokéstops can be an opportunity to bump into your friend or even a stranger who shares the same interest. The bad is that these stops make the players an easy target as they are deeply engrossed in the game unaware of their surroundings. As this game became viral, it did not surprise me to see safety warnings on freeways- ‘No Pokémon Go while driving.’
I have not gone too far in the game, but there are places defined as ‘gyms’ on the map where you can even battle. Once I reach that level, I would know more about this game.
So, how is Nintendo making money if this app is free?
Players can buy pokéballs and power-ups with real money. Also, the company will start sponsored pokéstops; wherein the retailers can purchase the pokéstops thus getting foot traffic at their doorsteps. But even before these ads launch, retailers are already into casual advertising. They can buy ‘lure module’ on the app, which as the name suggests stations pokémon character to the desired location for 30 minutes, thus attracting the public. No wonder I saw thousands of pokéstops when I passed a mall! Prepare yourself for Pokénomy folks.
Will the ‘Pokémon Go’ mania last?
Personally, I like this game as it provides the masses with the flavor of augmented reality, and for now, I have not encountered any violence or bad language. Secondly, it is not one of the games that would turn you into a couch potato; rather you would end up losing some pounds as you move around scavenger hunting for Pikachu and other characters.
In all, ‘Pokémon Go’ does seem to have the right formula to stay in the market for a while, as it prepares to launch in other countries.
So, have you played ‘Pokémon Go’ yet? If yes what are your thoughts? Do you have any tips?