What has characters named Snorlax and Slobro, more tweets than Brexit and can actually get a gamer off of the couch? That’s right, it’s Pokémon Go, also called PoGo by thumb typers.
The Good and the Ugly
The game has been newsworthy for some not-so-good reasons. Gaming at Arlington National Cemetery and driving into a police car while playing are just a few of the unfortunate stories.
But there is an upside. Pokémon Go is most people’s first venture into a lowbrow version of Augmented Reality (AR). Some say it’s not true AR and call it Mixed Reality or location-based gaming. AR buzz has been filled with talk of the future since Google Glass disappeared in 2015. It’s a boost for AR developers and encouraging for those of us waiting for something fun and affordable. Check out this Forbes article on AR progress.
The game is also getting people up and moving. With average play time at 45 minutes per day, you’re halfway to hitting the 10,000 steps demanded by that thing on your wrist. There’s also a networking benefit. Many people play in teams or join up with groups so they’re having real interactions that don’t occur when gaming at home. There’s a brand new Pokémon Dating site which maybe shouldn’t be listed under the good things about Pokémon.
Another positive is that underemployed Millennials have new job opportunities. You can now pay a “Pokémon Sherpa” to lead you to monsters or to even play for you so that you aren’t disrespected by your peers.
With most apps languishing in a pond of expensive and privacy-invading choices, Pokémon Go is a breakout star for several reasons. One is that people stopped caring so much about allowing the app to know their every move. Smart phones have improved battery life. Mapping has more data than ever. But the biggest reason is probably that Millennials are nostalgic for a game they played in the 1990s. They remember the characters, the format and talking to their friends about it. Now it’s back and if your startup wasn’t well funded, you’ve got time to play.
More Than Just Pocket Monsters
There are many other games which will get you up and moving. SpekTrek turns you into a ghost hunter. You trot from location to location capturing ghosts with your camera.
If you’re a runner, Zombies, Run! adds some spice to your workout. You listen to a zombie story line and can hear them chasing you. Speed up and pass a certain point and you receive an ax or some powdered food or whatever it is you need to survive a zombie attack.
Who knows whether PoGo will be around in six months or even six weeks. But if you catch that other gamer falling into a fountain, that’s on YouTube forever.