Pokemon Go – Augmented Rural Reality

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         Augmented reality games like Pokemon Go seem to be a new genre that are emerging and taking off. And it seems to be a wonderful thing. Get people up and moving. Maybe those playing a game at the same local landmark strike up a conversation, strangers who find they enjoy the same past times.

But what of those who live in rural or “country” areas? What if your “local” landmarks are a 20-40 minute car ride away and there’s nothing but fields near you?

Having grown up a farm kid and now living in a lower population area, these questions come to mind as Niantic Inc games are becoming a huge deal. Pokemon GO and Ingress are highly played games. And I’m sure if you are in a city, it’s easy to get to landmarks for supplies or battle areas. But for the kids, teens, and young adults who don’t live in highly populated areas this becomes a difficult task.

Growing up my nearest neighbor was a good half mile away, and that was mostly lane just to get from the road to my house. There were no exceptional landmarks or major building, unless you count the local pig farm. Thinking back on my childhood home and the surrounding areas, there’s absolutely no way I could have played an augmented reality game based on how they setup bases for importance. As a teenager, I probably would have been awful when it came to complaining about the lack of things around me. It was bad enough before smartphones with games.

Even as a grown adult, I live in a smaller town and there are few places that help with these games. Those landmark resupply places are few in this area making it harder to keep up with those that frequent areas with more population or more landmarks. So to be able to even continue to play I have had to spend real money to buy PokéCoins, the in game currency, to be able to buy something as simple as Pokéballs, which is needed to catch Pokemon (the whole point of the game). Without being able to catch Pokemon, you can’t level your character. Without being able to level, you don’t get the extra supplies to continue. It becomes a circle of sadness because what could be a great game is stuck until you can make it to a PokéStop and hope it drops things you need. Supposedly you are able to get Pokécoins while walking around. I have yet to see it, not that the amount of the currency it gave you be anywhere near enough what you need to purchase the store items. It’s a rather broken system in that regard. There needs to be better ways to accumulate the PokéCoins for those that cannot invest real money in the game and are not physically able to get to a PokéStop.

Maybe they will figure out someway just to use a pedometer and you can control which way your character goes while you walk on a treadmill or in your own house. That would be handy for those who may not live in areas where wandering around at all hours of the day is feasible. Maybe even team up with companies that already have external pedometer options to make it compatible. It would also give those who live in rural areas to “walk” to landmarks without having to actually walk miles one direction to get to one.

I have hope for augmented reality games. I think the concept is solid, but it needs work. There are a lot of risk factors and not a lot of help to get a reward.

–  Red