Gamification stuff we love: Pokemon Go

Gamification stuff we love: Pokemon Go

Although it hasn’t been officially released in the UK and Europe the Pokemon Go vibe has reached these shores nevertheless. For the Company Of Thought I have been writing about augmented reality in e-learning for the past year. I predicted that it would be bigger than virtual reality in this space, once people would find useful applications for it. Pokemon Go certainly has found an application for augmented reality to enhance walking with smart phone gaming.

What is fun about it, is that people have willingly opted in to play the game and now that it is all over social media and the news the uptake will just mushroom. Interesting how a number of first movers and images posted on social media instigated other curious members of society to download the app. The feedback of people having sore legs from walking further and reporting it on social media is again stirring more people into action. In the markets where Pokemon is freely available in the app stores even some non-gamers are trying it out with mixed responses. Spin off services to drive people around to go and catch Pokemon are also being made available in San Francisco for example, which is rather bemusing. Obviously you will find how to play guides on YouTube by a range of players.

From a gamification perspective this is an ideal example though to make walking more interesting and to have people doing it freely and happily, going further than their original norm. Walking for some people is perceived as a boring activity (I have friends who love it and wouldn’t need an app to get started). The thinking is often that it serves no real purpose in a world where achieving seems to be a more engaging sport. With Pokemon go the achievement need is satisfied in a fun manner by catching little bug like creatures and the added quest of finding more of them. The more Pokemon you catch, you then receive the power to level up.

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What is rather ingenious is that the positive endorphins that come from walking are reinforced with those relating to catching creatures. The frustration of not catching any is then what drives others to keep trying. In the early stages of the game the ease of catching is lower and increases as you go. Currently the game is being played with mobile phones, however the apple or android watch systems could provide the next and potentially more personally safe way of playing. One of my female friends in the US also tried it on her daily dog walk and she reported feeling a sense of belonging to the group of players, when they acknowledged one another in the local area. I also had an Australian friend who ditched the app quite quickly after downloading it, so he could just enjoy a normal walk again. He also made the comment that walking has already had a few overhauls with golf and orienteering for example.

Introducing game elements to walking indeed isn’t new. Including our mobile phone and virtual creatures in an app in the process is new. The key to making this work though are the motivational drivers of initially curiosity to see what the hype is all about and for the first time users it may also be curiosity to try out something new and novel. Thanks to early achievements and rewards, the game hooks players in. The rarity of some of the special creatures is making people stay out longer and go further and try harder. Belonging to a tribe of players and playing with friends gives an added bonus of enjoyment as well as a bit of peer pressure.

Where would you see scope for a version of Pokemon Go for some business gamification?

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