Anyone remember the game Assassin? There were several varieties under the names Killer, Gotcha, etc. It was played in the real world as a days- or weeks-long round of elimination tag involving toy dart guns or some other device. It had folks ambushing each other in their bedrooms, showers, and cars at all hours. Sometimes the goal was be to be the last man standing. Other rules had point systems. But what makes this game similar to the newest Pokemon game is Assassin took players away from the game table and put them out on the street, chasing each other around to the astonishment of hapless observers wondering what was going on.
I’ve never played Pokemon games before. My only exposure came when a mother I know asked me my opinion on the collectible card game, as her son had become hooked. My biggest impression at the time was that the game could be expensive.
This past week’s news features the viral popularity of a Pokemon Go app that people are playing on their smart phones. The game takes players outdoors in search of Pokemon creatures and collectibles, with an element of player interaction. This has millions out and getting exercise, with a greater chance of breaking a sweat than a round of Wii bowling.
The meshing of virtual world and the real isn’t new. It’s something science fiction writers and virtual reality developers have been addressing for years. But this does bring to the forefront many issues involved as players roam the streets with phones held to their faces, sometimes oblivious to their surroundings.
Pokemon Go Prompts Numerous Warnings From Law Enforcement Agencies Link: http://on.ktla.com/6YCqc
There were a number of scares with the Assassin game involving the police being called when players were observed laying in wait for others, hiding in shadows with toy guns. At least with these games, the players remained rooted in the observable world. Pokemon has players with their noses in their phone screens. If this evolves along with more immersive hardware, safety could obviously become more of an issue.
The augmented reality element is not new tech. It has been used by the military for uses like map overlays on helmet displays for drivers, infantrymen, and pilots. The medical field has an ever-growing AR gadget list like the Vein Viewer. American Football broadcasts superimpose the first yard line on the television. The technology’s explosion into popular gaming was only a matter of time.
Assassin-style games have been banned from a number of college and university campuses as well as gaming conventions because of their disruptive nature. An overreaction to the new Pokemon seems inevitable once players become irritating to the general public. What is interesting is that this game has generated more interest in augmented reality than products like Google Glass have ever seen. As more games like this are released, it will benefit the public to be aware of pedestrians and drivers who might not be as attentive to the world around them as they ought to be.