Currently Reading

Pokémon Go is helping people discover their cities

Augmented Reality

Pokémon Go is helping people discover their cities

While catching them all may be the main goal, the wildly popular mobile game is also leading people to trek to unexplored corners of their cities

By David Malone, Associate Editor | July 15, 2016

Pixabay Public Domain

For many who grew up in the 90s and early 2000s, the sound of a parent yelling from upstairs to stop playing video games and go outside and enjoy the beautiful summer day was probably a fairly common occurrence. It was often times met with a “One more level!” or “I’ve almost beaten it!” plea. Others tried a bolder strategy of not moving or making a sound when the call inevitably came downstairs, hoping their parent had movement based T-rex vision and would soon realize their mistake and move on.

It usually didn’t work (meaning it never worked) and soon enough it was time to shut off the game console and head out into the real world. But today, thanks to the ubiquity of smart phones and some fancy augmented reality technology, not only are playing video games and spending time outside no longer mutually exclusive, one actually encourages the other.

Pokémon Go, the mobile-based game that has become a phenomenon, has not only made the dreams come true of many Millennials who wanted nothing more than to be a real world Pokémon trainer growing up, but it is also getting people out of their dank basements and exploring their cities like a scene from the end of 2009’s Surrogates.

The hook of the game centers around finding Pokéstops, gyms, and Pokémon themselves, in the real world at historical places, landmarks, or even just in your backyard. As Fast Company reports, after being led to an area by Pokémon Go and filling up on Pokéballs or catching their most recent creature, people are looking up from their phones and realizing they are in a beautiful park just minutes from where they live that they have never explored before, are standing in front of a historical structure that used to just blend in with everything else, or are among literally dozens of other people from all over the city, now congregated in the same place playing the game.


Pixabay Public Domain


Not only is Pokémon Go helping people explore their cities, but it also has the potential to help people fix them. As people are out exploring their city, integration of an app such as SeeClickFix could help players report potholes or other civic issues, helping to increase the speed at which they are fixed. This type of gamification isn’t new, but it would be the most thorough and widespread instance of it.

Not everything is hunky dory with Pokémon Go, however. Some people out on the hunt are ending up at Pokéstops in dark alleys, strip clubs, and other questionable locales. Recently, officials at the United States Holocaust Museum, Arlington National Cemetery, and Poland’s Auschwitz Memorial have all called on the games maker, Niantic, to remove their sites from the game, citing the disrespectful nature of playing a game and trying to catch Pokémon in these areas. There have also been reports of individuals getting hit by cars and falling off of cliffs while playing the game.

While it may not be appropriate to play the game everywhere, Pokémon Go is a perfect example of what is possible from combing smartphones with augmented reality technology to help increase interest in the architectural, cultural, and historical aspects of a city. There is no doubt game developers and app creators have seen the success of Pokémon Go and more AR apps, both game based and information based, will be coming down the pike.

Until then, people are sure to continue their nostalgia trips while also walking away with some new experiences and a greater appreciation for their surroundings.

Related Stories

BIM and Information Technology | Jan 10, 2019

'BIM to AR' comes to the masses

Could new technology that simplifies the transfer of BIM models to augmented reality push AEC firms to go all in on extended reality?

Building Technology | Dec 18, 2018

Data and analytics are becoming essential for EC firms competing to rebuild America’s infrastructure

A new paper from Deloitte Consulting advises companies to revise their strategies with an eye toward leveraging advanced technologies.

Augmented Reality | Nov 9, 2018

Is this the future of amusement parks?

The concept will be presented in Orlando at the IAAPA Attractions Expo.

Augmented Reality | Nov 2, 2018

Savannah College of Art and Design offers new four-year degree in Immersive Reality

The program began its first year with the fall 2018 semester.

Augmented Reality | Oct 29, 2018

AR is indispensable to design and construction

Using AR, vital construction data can be transferred instantaneously from the design model to the augmented reality overlay.

Accelerate Live! | Jun 24, 2018

Watch all 19 Accelerate Live! talks on demand

BD+C’s second annual Accelerate Live! AEC innovation conference (May 10, 2018, Chicago) featured talks on AI for construction scheduling, regenerative design, the micro-buildings movement, post-occupancy evaluation, predictive visual data analytics, digital fabrication, and more. Take in all 19 talks on demand.

| May 30, 2018

Accelerate Live! talk: Seven technologies that restore glory to the master builder

In this 15-minute talk at BD+C’s Accelerate Live! conference (May 10, 2018, Chicago), AEC technophile Rohit Arora outlines emerging innovations that are poised to transform how we design and build structures in the near future.

Augmented Reality | May 30, 2018

HoloLens used as wayfinding device to guide blind people through complex buildings

Neither training nor modification of the physical environment are required to use the system.

| May 24, 2018

Accelerate Live! talk: The rise of multi-user virtual reality

In this 15-minute talk at BD+C’s Accelerate Live! conference (May 10, 2018, Chicago), two of CannonDesign's tech leaders present their early findings from pilot testing multi-user VR technology for AEC project coordination.

More In Category

Magazine Subscription

Get our Newsletters

Each day, our editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.


Follow BD+C: