Tue, Aug 02, 2016 - Page 9 News List

Pokenomics is giving businesses a real-world boost globally

The phenomenal success of Pokemon Go has seen players of the smartphone game exploring shops, cafes and museums

By Esther Addley  /  The Guardian

Transfixed players have fallen off a cliff in California, wandered across the border in Canada and broken a limb in Australia, all while hunting Pokemon. Authorities at Auschwitz and the Hiroshima memorial have asked players to stay away; the police in Portugal, the Chinese army, the Indonesian civil service and the Japanese National Center of Incident Readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity have all issued warnings.

In Britain, four teenagers had to be rescued in Wiltshire after following imaginary Pokemon down a 30m mineshaft; two girls wandered 80m out to sea on mudflats in Somerset; and a lifeboat crew was scrambled after three girls were seen wandering into rough seas in Hastings while playing the game. Network Rail has displayed signs warning commuters against straying on to tracks.

Has there ever been a computer game — or a technological or artistic innovation of any kind — that has had the immediate international impact of Pokemon Go? Two weeks after its launch in the UK, less than a month after it became available in the US, and already rolled out to almost 40 other countries, the hit smartphone game has been shattering records for global downloads and is estimated to have been installed on the smartphones of 75 million people worldwide — at least 5 million of them in the UK in its first week alone.

Analysis suggests that after its US launch Pokemon Go was being used more widely than Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram or Twitter.

The cultural impact of such enormous uptake has been equally huge, as parks, historical sites, transport hubs, churches and restaurants across the world have seen people wandering round, faces glued to their smartphones, in pursuit of creatures invisible to non-players — with all the hazards that entails.

The jargon of Pokemon Go might be baffling to outsiders, but its interface would be broadly familiar to anyone who has used a car satellite navigation system.

The point of the game is to orient oneself in the real world using a 3D map on one’s smartphone screen, then discover Pokemon characters in augmented reality as viewed through the smartphone camera.

Players, or “trainers,” can then catch the wide range of cartoon animals by flicking Poke Balls at them.

Many real-world locations have become virtual Poke tops, where players can top up on items useful for playing the game. Others have been designated Pokemon gyms, which become the location for team-based battles for control of the facility. Just make sure you look where you ere going while heading there.

It was at his four-year-old son’s birthday party that Paul Carmichael and a colleague had an idea. Two days earlier Pokemon Go had been released in Britain and though Carmichael did not know much about it, they had already spotted one or two children playing it around the Cardwell garden center, near the village of Inverkip in Inverclyde, where he is the retail general manager. Maybe there was an opportunity here.

“We checked it out at the garden center, and we found a few Pokemon, so we decided to set up a campaign to get some people to come down to find them,” he said.

They invited visitors to post photographs on Facebook of the cartoon creatures they had discovered lurking virtually between the seed packets and garden furniture, for the chance of winning a voucher for the center’s restaurant.

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