Pokemon Go: a smartphone game that arrived in Japan on Friday riding waves of explosive worldwide popularity, has brought with it both excitement and anxiety over this new style of gaming.
People playing the game on their phones are appearing all over the country of Pokemon’s birth, suggesting it is well on its way to becoming a social phenomenon.
While there are hopes the game will have positive economic effects, some have worried about people getting into trouble because they are absorbed in using smartphones while walking in UAE.
What is Pokémon Go?
It’s a new mobile game, free on both iOS and Android, that lets you create an avatar that can catch, train, trade and battle Pokémon characters inside the game.
That sounds familiar. Isn’t that the premise of virtually every other Pokémon game?
Yes, kinda. What makes this game unique is that it uses your phone’s location services and camera so that you can catch Pokémon in real life. That is, when you walk around the streets of whatever city or town you live in, your avatar moves inside the game. So finding new Pokémon and checkpoints for the game actually requires you to get off the couch and walk down the block.
How does this work?
The game uses Google Maps technology to place your avatar on a virtual world that mirrors your real life surroundings. When you find a Pokémon, the game uses augmented reality to make it look like whatever Pokémon you’ve stumbled across is indeed standing right there in front of you.
Here’s an GIF that gives you an idea of what I mean:
Who created Pokémon Go?
Nintendo and the other creators of Pokémon teamed up with Niantic Labs to create the game. The former company was born inside Google; its founder, John Hanke, was a key leader of its Geo products (Google Maps, Earth). After moving to leave Google in 2010, Hanke was lured to stay with funding for Niantic, a skunkworks project to build mobile AR tools using Google Maps technology. Niantic’s first effort, Ingress — an augmented-reality, massively multiplayer, location-based online game — cultivated a small but very dedicated following. Niantic spun out of Google in the fall, yet the search giant stayed involved, participating in a $30 million investment for developing Pokémon Go.
So, What is so fun about it?
I’ve watched my friends excitedly whip out their phones whenever we walk a couple of yards down the street, round a corner, or enter a new place, in search of new Pokémon. If the timing is right, wild Pokémon leap out at you, giving you have a chance to catch them with a Pokéball. When you capture a Pokémon, it gets added to your Pokédex, a sort of Pokémon database, where you can personalize them later. And then the fun part: You can go to your local “gym” and battle your Pokémon against other trainers (also real people). Isn’t that fun? if not, then I don’t know what is fun!