Pokémon Go was the viral sensation this summer. The game uses the global positioning system, augmented reality and licensed content from Nintendo. Behind the scenes, Google has a team of engineers directly working with the Niantic team to ensure that the servers are up and running. The game is very social, and makes trainers form networks, co-ordinate attacks, and discuss strategies. Pokémon Go is physically demanding, and unlike a conventional video game, it makes you go outside and explore locations in the real world.
These social and technical characteristics mean that Pokémon Go is now becoming a part of university courses around the world. According to a report in the Daily Mail, Salford University students studying Business Information Technology will be required to play and understand the game as part of their science degrees. The course is about the relationship between businesses, people and information systems, and Pokémon Go is a great game to make the course more accessible.Students will be studying how playing the game changes the behaviors of the trainers. Pokémon Go trainers take longer routes to go from point A to point B. On the way, they may stop to catch Pokémon or farm resources from Pokéstops. Students will also be analysing the use of Pokémon Go by businesses. Those businesses that are near Pokéstops can use lure modules to make that particular location more attractive to customers
The game will be used to make the students understand how the global positioning system, the camera and the servers are managed to deliver an experience to the end users. There are multiple technologies being used in the game, along with cutting edge systems made just for the game. As part of providing the cloud service to handle the traffic for the game, Google engineers fixed a number of bugs in the underlying framework. The course teaches mobile app development and how to handle different emerging technologies and information systems in a business environment.
The instructor for the course at the University of Idaho, Steven Bird said, “I want it to be more than people going, ‘I’m going to go catch a Pikachu’. This app does more than let you shoot a Pokéball. You get to adventure around, seeing different things, being active, seeing the sun. It allows you to move in large groups and a team. You get not only physical activity, but you also get team-building and leadership.” Philips Scruggs, chair of the Department of Movement Sciences, said, “It’s a great way to engage youth through adults, and a great way to engage families in active games together. Our interest is to turn folks onto an active lifestyle, and that can be achieved in endless ways.”
Universities tapping into the many positive aspects of the game goes to show that Niantic has achieved something special in Pokémon Go. The previous game by Niantic, Ingress also had most of these elements that makes Pokémon Go sucessful. Augmented reality, real world locations and team work were all part of the game. Pokémon and the nostalgia that comes with it, is what Pokémon Go offers over Ingress. Ingress is still being updated and maintained after almost four years. Pokémon Go offers dedicated hardware, and the makers are planning to roll out the game in more countries around the world. These are signs of a lasting phenomenon, one that will continue to provide gamers with increasingly richer experiences.