By Russell Stigall for Seward City News –
It’s a huge thing. A new game from Nintendo called Pokémon Go. The game has increased its developer’s stock value by up to $10 billion.
Seward has missed out on many high-tech fads; Uber, high-speed fiber optic internet. Pokémon is an interesting exception.
Google developed the technology through a game called Ingress using its Google Maps data. Nintendo ported it to the Pokémon universe. The idea of the game is to capture Pokémon characters at specific locations throughout a player’s home and town. The app lays Pokémon characters over images captured by a phone’s camera in what is called by some Augmented Reality and by others Location Based Gaming.
Go players use smart phones with internet service to track their location and the location of their avatar on a virtual map as they walk through the actual real world. Pokémon Go has a digital representation of Seward, Alaska rendered in an eye-pleasing blue and green map. It is good enough. Resurrection Bay is there, Mount Marathon is nothing but blue sky.
What makes Pokémon Go more than entertaining is the way it demands movement and exploration. “Power-ups” and “Pikachus” are place around Seward to align with water bodies and monuments. Some points of interest match the waterfront’s camping fee collection stations. Others match the dedicated gardens and monuments along our harbor and waterfront.
The game feels a lot like geocaching – a pastime where participants use GPS coordinates to find small caches of trinkets. Pokémon Go could give families an excuse to walk Seward’s waterfront in search of a “Charmander” at Mariner’s Memorial.
Popularity for Nintendo’s augmented reality game soared though last weekend and controversy followed. Homeowners found their real homes had become the location of virtual Pokémon training gyms. Teens down south were reported to have used players’ location to identify potential mugging victims.
Pokémon Go is a fun little game. It is also just the beginning. Microsoft, Google, Magic Leap all have advanced augmented reality hardware and software in the works. Look for more digital worlds to overlay analog reality.