Pokemon Go, mobile phone AR game

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The hottest trending news right now is the Pokémon Go augmented reality (AR) game. If you haven’t heard about the game, the only thing I can tell you is, ‘Get out of that cave!’

Pokemon Go, mobile phone AR game
Pokémon Go

When the game exploded on to the scene last week, I never bothered to give it much attention. The headlines were enough to tell me a new game in town is causing a lot of sensation. But the headlines just refused to go away after one week.

The stories are getting bizarre by the week I must say. The one story that first caught a 100% of my attention was the Pokémon Go servers crashing when the game was launched worldwide. This made the company behind the game, to suspend the worldwide launch of the game.

So before the game is re-launched and hopefully reaches Nigeria, let’s answer some basic questions about Pokémon Go.

Pokemon Go, mobile phone AR game
Playing Pokémon Go

What is Pokémon Go?

Pokémon Go is a free new game for both Androids and iOS devices. It lets you create and train your own online personality or alter ego known as avatar. You can use the to avatar to catch, train, trade and fight other Pokémons inside the game.

You must have a GPS enabled-mobile phone and Internet service to play. Pokémon Go makes use of your phone location and camera to create a virtual world where you can catch real Pokémons in real life.

In other words, the game requires you to leave the comfort of your couch and walk along the streets looking for Pokémons to catch.

How it works

The game takes advantage of the new high resolution Google Maps technology to replicate your real surroundings. It therefore creates a virtual world of the real world around you right in your mobile phone.

Basically, we are talking augmented reality here. When you discover a Pokémon as you are searching along the street, the games AR software kicks in to make it look like the discovered Pokémon is standing directly in your path daring you to catch it.

And catching it with your avatar is what the game is basically about.

In a way, Pokémon Go is helping to push the idea and concept of AR into mainstream society. The fact is, most people who have heard about AR don’t have any idea what it is all about. A popular game like Pokémon Go would help launch the AR concept firmly into people’s imagination.

Who owns the Game?

Pokemon Go, mobile phone AR game
John Hanke

The primary promoters of Pokémon Go are Nintendo who everybody (presumably) knows about. However, there are other partners that teamed up with Nintendo to create the game. One of the key partners is known as Niantic Labs.

One of the key founders of Niantic Labs, John Hanke, used to work for Google before the change of name to Alphabet.

John Hanke was credited with being part of the original team that was responsible for creating Google Maps and Google Earth. It is said that Niantic Labs was actually formed inside Google but decided to make a clean break when Alphabet was born last year.

Pokémon Go is not the first game to come out of Niantic Labs. That honor belonged to Ingress, which is also an AR based game like Pokémon Go. Ingress has a fiercely dedicated and committed set of fans who would stake their honor on the game.

Pokemon Go, mobile phone AR game
Niatic Labs

Though Niantic broke away from Google, the search engine giant also provided part of the seed money used in the development of Pokémon Go. But I bet Google would have preferred to own the whole company outright. For now though, Google would have to stay on the sidelines and watch as the latest game phenomenon continues to rumble on around the world.

If you are reading this in a place like America, and you see people walking around staring intently at their mobile phones, you just might be seeing serious Pokémon hunters playing the game live.


image credit: YouTube; techcrunch.com; nextbigwhat.com; droid-life.com


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