Gaming on the Go with Pokemon Go

So, people are going bonkers for Pokemon Go, according to a quote from a recent article on the BBC website “Even pornography, an enduring internet fascination, has been overtaken by interest in the app.”

Surely it can’t keep it up?

In a recent article in The Telegraph even the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn came under fire for capturing the Pokemon known as ‘Krabby’ whilst playing the game in a London park. Personally, I think it’s a good thing and I wish more politicians were in touch and kept up to speed with emerging trends in technology. Of course, I’m not suggesting they all furtively tinker with their smartphones during Prime Ministers Question Time, but if they happen to be out walking in a local park, then why not?

Pokemon Go2
Not a Pokemon in sight!

If you’ve not tried it yet Pokemon Go is now available on both Android and iOS in the UK. You create a personalised avatar in the mobile game and explore the world around you by visiting points of special interest that digitally overlay the real world. You discover these points of interest by using your phone’s GPS and camera, as they’ve been geotagged to specific locations. These digitally geotagged points of interest include places of cultural interest in the real world (such as historic buildings, works of art, etc), virtual gyms where you can train or, more often than not, Pokemon pocket monsters that you capture by throwing balls at to gain in experience and levels.

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A pesky Weedle round the corner from my house.

Capturing the Pokemon monsters involves a certain amount of manual dexterity (you have to throw the ball just right to make a capture), but if you do the monster goes into your Pokedex – it’s a little bit like a digital badge collection, which incentivises the player to capture the other monsters.

According to the BBC article there are real health benefits as a player using the app for 43 minutes a day can expect to burn off as many as 1500 calories a week for a woman, or 1800 for a man.

It does of course pose potential health drawbacks too, as with any game that makes use of geotagged digital objects, players need to be aware of their surroundings when playing the game, especially in urban environments, as you don’t receive bonus points for falling down open potholes or walking into an oncoming double decker, regardless of however many Pokemon pets you’ve captured… The game does come with the usual disclaimer warning players to be vigilant and the NSPCC have produced some tips and advice aimed at parents for keeping their children safe whilst playing the game.

Like many other players, I was curious to see how much of my local area had found its way into the game and was surprised to see a growing number of landmarks in my home city of Sheffield had already been geotagged with the pesky Japanese pocket monsters. Reports are similar too for other major cities across the UK.

It’s easy to see why Pokemon Go has become so popular so quickly, as it really is a trailblazer for augmented reality mobile gaming apps and it will be exciting to see how this develops. Given the recent developments in UK politics I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Pokemon Go craze caught on across all the political parties too. In fact, perhaps we should even have Pokemon pocket monsters standing as members of parliament.

Krabby for PM?

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