Aug 042016


Since the release of the augmented reality game Pokemon Go weeks ago, it has received positive feedback for its surprising positive effects on mental and physical health. Apart from getting kids, who are hospitalized, to engage in social and physical activities, the game also motivates people to explore their cities and consequently boost local tourism as tour agencies and independent tour guides take advantage of the chance to conduct Pokemon Go city tours.

Although this is basically an AR game that literally turns people into digital zombies as they walk the streets looking for Pokemon characters, this phenomenon has also encouraged people to socialize more not only in meetings or conventions held in different states but also in parks in New York City and Georgetown, to name a few.

Social Awareness and Environmental Impact

But if one will look beyond just the mental and physical effects of the game, there is a lot of potential seen in Pokemon Go that gives it environmental and social relevance. A perfect example is the idea of an animal shelter in Indiana. The Muncie Animal Shelter came up with the idea of letting Pokemon GO players walk dogs which are also up for adoption while enjoying the location-dependent AR game. Not only was the invitation well-received, with more than 250 volunteers showing up at the shelter but also according to Melissa Blair, the assistant superintendent at the animal shelter, four dogs were adopted after the experience, including a black Labrador which found a new family. Labeled “Pokemon Dogs”, this brilliant idea became international news.

Other Possible Scenarios

Pokemon GO is a potential medium to spread environmental and social awareness to people in a global scale, given its popularity among digital gamers of all ages. There is no doubt that one of the most fascinating features of this game is the augmented reality platform. However, what makes it more unique and attention-grabbing is its location dependence. This very same popular aspect of the game is can motivate gamers to contribute to the upkeep of Mother Earth.

Players of Pokemon GO spend hours and even weeks looking for Pokemon characters and hatching eggs without getting bored. As opposed to other augmented reality games that require players to hover their devices on a piece of paper or a specific product packaging for a visual sequence to be enjoyed, Pokemon Go uses the real surroundings the players are in. This platform allows players to walk for miles around the cities they live in and takes them to places they seldom have the chance to visit at any given day. Having said that, the game can be instrumental to reaching places like illegal trash dumping sites, crime locations and other important places that are overlooked and in need of attention from authorities.

In the future, perhaps, Pokemon GO manufacturers will add features that will enable players to contact government agencies responsible for repairs and maintenance to ensure public safety like covering open manholes or fixing damaged slabs. Or Pokemon GO players will be able to take images of emergency situations and send them to specific government agencies by just pressing a button.

With all these possibilities, the AR game experience will someday be taken to yet another level, one that has significance not only in terms of technological advancement but also in environmental and social awareness.




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