The 1990’s was a decade in which Tamagotchis’, Furbies’ and Beanie Babies were the toys that every child had to have. The Macarena dance and Aqua’s Barbie Girl were the rave at the clubs. But, as the nineties progressed many fads came and went but one that stayed popular, even to this day, is Pokémon. Children everywhere aspired to be ‘the very best like no one ever was’ (Loeffler & Siegler 1999). But Pokémon didn’t feel real, until Pokémon Go was released.
Pokémon Go was released by augmented reality company Niantic, in July of 2016. Pokémon Go is a mobile application that allows users to engage with the popular series Pokémon, whilst completing their daily exercise. Researchers from Deakin University state that Pokémon Go ‘is taking us out of our living rooms and into real-life streets to roam as we play’ (How Pokemon Go is transforming gaming 2016). This type of application comes under the theory of ‘gamification‘.
(I have provided a link to a blog post by Dr. Adam Brown, from Deakin University, where he provides insight into ‘Motivation and the Rewards’ associated with gamification).
According to Kim (2015, p. 5), ‘Gamification is not quite creating a game but [it] transfers some of the positive [and motivating] characteristics of a game to something that is not a game’. The game like characteristics that are elements of Pokémon Go are great to motivate us to exercise but what about being tracked whilst playing the game. The first time I played the game, I questioned the use of tracking and checking in, and where is this geo-location data going and what is it being used for.
The game uses real locations and appeals to youngsters and kidults (McCartney 2016). McCartney (2016) asserts that ‘the game draws people to real places [and is] making it easy for criminals to spot [points of interest]’. The games use of point of interest technology allows for users to be victimised.
Recently, three teenagers were robbed at gunpoint in London because they were playing Pokémon Go. The Guardian reports that because of ‘its popularity, safety fears have been sparked’ (Khomami 2016). There is also fears of terrorism being an issue associated with the app, as terrorists aim for big groups of people. Also, conspiracy theories are arising that associates links to the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) and to Pokémon Go’s app surveillance.
I enjoy using Pokémon Go and engaging with the Pokémon world, but I am always sceptical about the other ramifications that are associated with it.
, How Pokemon Go is transforming gaming 2016, Deakin University, retrieved 16 Jul 2016, <http://this.deakin.edu.au/culture/how-pokemon-go-is-transforming-gaming?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialmedia&utm_campaign=This>.
Khomami, N 2016, ‘Pokémon Go: London players robbed of phones at gunpoint’, The Guardian [Online Content], <https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jul/30/three-pokemon-go-players-robbed-of-phones-at-gunpoint-in-london>.
Kim, B 2015, ‘The popularity of gamification in the mobile and social era’, Library Technology Reports, vol. 51, no. 2, pp. 5-9.
Loeffler, J & Siegler, J 1999, Pokémon Theme.
McCartney, M 2016, ‘Margaret McCartney: Game on for Pokémon Go’, BMJ: British Medical Journal (Online content), p. 1.