I was excitedly telling the members of the Digital Makers’ Collective, whose meeting I was at, about Pokémon Go about a month before it came out.
I’d been struck by the power of the concept since I’d heard it.
This would be life, gamified.
First, some context;
I’m a fan of video games. I have been since I was little. They’re great, often for distinct and separate reasons from each other – there are games that are meant to be played communally, in the room multiplayer games like Mario Kart or Super Smash Brothers Brawl, there are immersive storytelling games, the best example being the multi-award winning The Last of Us to name a few.
So all this being the case, I know well about “grinding”, consistently repeating a set action in order to work towards an objective, the equivalent of running on a treadmill.
But what’s great about Pokémon Go is, although it does regress to grinding a fair bit, the grinding itself is walking around, outside, often bumping into other real life players, in no small part thanks to the distinctive index finger upward swipe of throwing Pokéballs.
In this sense, Pokémon go gamifies your day to day life, your commute, your walk to the park on a Saturday, your (slow moving) bus journey. All of the things that you do normally now feel exciting and progress your advancement in the game. But best of all, this encourages you to walk more and further, and take different routes to the ones your normally do.
All of this isn’t without its problems.
The act of walking around repeatedly on your phone is influenced by race, as are most things. People are a lot more suspicious, especially Stateside, of young black kids wandering about places they don’t normally.
But on the whole, I think this is the beginning of something very exciting, in terms of gamificiation and in terms of Augemented Reality, and I would like to play a part in both.