Home Science & Technology Pokemon Go – the world of gamified Big Data

Pokemon Go – the world of gamified Big Data

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By now every netizen would have come across Pokemon Go, the viral game which has beaten the record of popular games like Candy Crush Saga. Many if not played would have at least heard about it. In India it hasn’t been officially released but still I am sure many youngsters would have found ways to play it.

Pokemon Go, as you know, is a location based, multiplayer, augmented reality game in which you can interact with virtual objects in your physical surroundings using your smart phone. You play the game by navigating through your physical location and keep a watch on the Pokemons located around you. If you see a Pokemon, you will throw your Pokeball to catch it (all digitally). The Pokemon you catch will be added to your collection. You will also see a map around which you will be navigating inside the game. These maps will show you features like Pokeshops and Pokegyms which are located at public places like parks, art installations, museums, historical places etc. You will keep collecting the virtual Pokemons from all these places and continue playing it like a typical Pokemon game.

What Pokemon Go does is, it adds augmented reality to the gaming experience by fusing the virtual with the real which you experience while catching Pokemons from your physical surroundings.

Pokemon [1] games are not new, they started as role playing video games which later evolved into various forms – online, offline (card games), animated television shows and movies. Pokemons are fictional creatures which the player (called Pokemon Trainer) has to catch and collect from the fictional world where the game takes place.Then they have to train them and battle with the other Pokemon trainers. Typically this is the general format of this game whether played as a video game or a card game. What Pokemon Go does is, it adds augmented reality to the gaming experience by fusing the virtual with the real which you experience while catching Pokemons from your physical surroundings.

Pokemon Go through its location based feature identifies your location using your phone’s GPS, and tailors the Pokemon based on these locations. Like if the location is a water body, it will show you water based Pokemon (PokeWater). First it’ll recognize the place through your GPS and then show the Pokemons as per the context. This means the game has lots of information about the locations where you are playing this game. And what’s that large set of information which the game has about you and your location? They are the large datasets which we often refer to as Big Data. So what you are playing is the Google map with augmented reality driven by Big Data which is giving you the impression of co-presence of the virtual Pokemons in your physical surroundings.

Interestingly Pokemon Go has got access to these large datasets from a similar augmented reality, location based, multiplayer online game called Ingress. Ingress started at google later spun off into a gaming company called Niantic. Pokemon Go has also been developed by Niantic. Do you know who has generated this large dataset for this game Ingress and further Pokemon Go? The users while playing Ingress… sounds strange but yes this is the world of Web 2.0 where user becomes co-creators in all forms of digital products. When you play Pokemon Go, you will also be generating a lot of data which will feed into the Big Data to be analyzed and used by many digital companies.

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Game enthusiasts have given both kinds of impressions about Pokemon Go. On one side it is being seen as a game which will enhance your physical activity as it forces you to go out, connect with other players (socialize), psychologically enhance motivation level thus helping depressed people, can also help in learning and many more. On the other side the game may distract you from being focused on the traffic on the busy roads resulting in accidents. A game involving loss and win can also make you more depressed if you continue to lose. This isn’t directly associated with Pokemon Go as it can happen with any game of loss and win. But making the claim of it being a psychological stimulant looks a bit stretched. Also there has been complains of people playing it at grave yards, memorials which looks very insensitive to many people.

You need to be aware of the fact that, you don’t have any privacy about your location when you play these games, and there’s no guarantee about who all get access to these data.

On the technical front Pokemon Go uses your camera and a good internet connectivity to play, which means at many places outside with slow internet, it won’t work properly. As you play it using your camera and internet, your battery will also drain out very fast. The game also eats a lot of data and clogs the network which means the game cannot function properly in low bandwidth conditions like India.

Coming back to Big Data, when you are playing games like Pokemon Go, you are generating more and more data about yourself. That’s how games like Pokemon Go gets information about you and run their businesses – a typical google’s way of doing things. For example the data you generate about yourself will be used by marketing agencies to personalize your user experiences when you are online. Your locations will help in deciding your interests, your buying probabilities which will feed you with ads delivered to you online. You need to be aware of the fact that, you don’t have any privacy about your location when you play these games, and there’s no guarantee about who all get access to these data.

[1] Romanized contraction of the Japanese brand Pocket Monster

To know more about Pokemon Go please refer to this web page curated by my favorite digital curator Cybraryman: Practice safety when playing Pokémon GO

1 COMMENT

  1. Wow… Multiplayer game —this knowledge is new for me… When I will get 4G data card(soon) I will try to explore this.

    Keep writing…

    Rgds
    Adnan Buland

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