The real-world application of augmented reality (AR) in pop culture has officially begun. I’m not talking about scan-this-page-and-see-a-video AR; I’m talking about hold-your-phone-up-and-see-that-there-are-adorable-digital-monsters-around-you AR.
Pokémon Go, which was downloaded by millions of people within its first three days—including 5% of all U.S. Android devices—is a mobile game that propels players to traverse the real world to capture wild pocket monsters and then assemble at specific locations in order to battle against other Pokémon.
I initially assumed this game was popular simply because the Pokémon franchise has been popular for decades…but I had no idea. Four days after Pokémon Go was released, I downloaded it to see what all the commotion was about. I captured a wild pocket monster in my bedroom but had to actually leave the house to collect others in order to level up. So my wife and I drove to the nearest park, suspecting the game was utilizing it as center of public activity. It was 10:30 p.m. and the park was hopping. We’d never seen it this full, this late, on a non-holiday. Small groups of people, as well as loners, walked about as others sat in the cool air conditioning of their cars—all united as players in the game.
When simply asked, “Pokémon?” the very first person we came across nodded in agreement and then looked down at his phone and trotted off to a memorial bench that had been assigned a role in the game. All of these people—dozens of them, from diverse backgrounds and across generations—were drawn to this park to play a mobile phone game with each other.
The expanse of humanity is personified wonderfully in photos posted online by players that have been brought together thanks to Pokémon Go—especially heartwarming following a violent and divisive week in American history.
This isn’t the first time such a game has invoked digital entities on your mobile phone’s screen overlaid on the real world. Four years ago, I wrote about Ingress, a seemingly more complicated game that “under the hood” is basically the same as Pokémon Go. Both Ingress and Pokémon Go are made by Niantic Inc., owned by Alphabet (parent company of Google). Titled, “For Smart CVBs & Planners Only,” the conclusion of that blog post from years past is just as relevant for meeting and event professionals now (with game titles swapped out, of course):
Ingress Pokémon Go wants you to get out there and start exploring your world…wise CVBs and event planners will begin pushing this game and integrating it into the experience of visitors and conference attendees. While it’s not an info-filled tour of a city, it is a compelling reason to tour any city.
There are already decent AR apps to educate users about various places and things all over the world, but Ingress Pokémon Go makes the journey a joy.
There are few hurdles to becoming acquainted with Pokémon Go and envisioning what’s possible with similar technology and meetings/events. All you have to do is download the free game and start exploring. Might pocket monsters help the world to become fluent in AR concepts and new technological perceptions of reality? Judging by the massive uptake already seen across all lines of U.S. culture thanks to Pokémon Go, the only answer must be, “Yes.”
Brick-and-mortar businesses of all variety—including event venues—should take note of the opportunities with Pokémon Go as well, since the game can lure players to your business (also in this Forbes story). Just as before, smart CVBs, venues and businesses will win depending on the way in which they engage Pokémon Go and its players.
So get going, traverse the augmented world of Pokémon Go during your lunch break (I just did this and ran into five other people doing the same) or while walking your dog. Experience the world around you as never before, then consider how this could be implemented in your business life…