As a kid, I was a big fan of Pokemon, I collected many posters of the characters, stickers, and pogs. In my school back then, my classmates and I organized pogs competitions until the principal of the school banned it, which really hurt me back then.
On my Facebook newsfeed, a friend from the medical school, asks: “What is this application that makes a doctor go and look for Pokemons in the restroom?”. Another friend complained about how it is “crazy” that people wander the streets looking for Pokemons. Many articles around the web talked about the negative effects of the game in terms of privacy and security issues as well.
Let’s ask ourselves, what happened to the world? What can we explore through Pokemon Go’s design model? What can game designers learn and what should technology entrepreneurs acquire? Why does this game deserve any attention?
When playing Pokemon Go, a user may have concerns regarding privacy and security issues because of the tracking and mapping in the game; however, this does not indicate that if a user enjoys the game he or she would stop using it because of the privacy excuse. Technology users around the world already gave up their privacy to many applications in return for good services.
The Arab side of my identity is always overwhelmed by concerns about privacy because of the political atmosphere I grew up in. This increases my thinking about numerous apps as a “Big Brother”. Once I moved to the United States, things have changed a little bit, I realized during my classes that a great number of students are enthusiastic to use technologies with which they share private information (even cognitive ones). I find it scary on one hand, but this is one thing technology entrepreneurs should be excited about: people will “sell” their privacy for good products and services.
Back to Pokemon Go, why is it a good example of an application?
The networking between players of the game is innovative. This network is a result of years of working on and creating a narrative around each character and the Pokemon world in general. Among the reasons of why players of the game are greatly engaged with it goes back to their familiarity with the story behind the game and its narrative; plus, they could relate it to experiences they had with the game before.
The game is a good example for the integration of augmented reality in gamification because it increases the players’ engagement with their environment, thus creating a meaningful user experience.
The instructions of the game are easy to understand and to immediately engage with, which is a critical aspect in user experience design. Having simple instructions from one level to another makes it easier for the player to go from easy to harder level. In addition, simplified instructions help in decreasing cognitive load of the player compared with complex instructions. The division of levels, simplified instructions, and the process of going from easy to hard levels is critical in game designing.
The customization settings in the game motivate the players to build a relationship with their character, which gives the player the feeling of ownership and possession, and that motivates them to sustain their playing experience.
Gaining points or characters in any game is critical for motivating the players; in the case of Pokemon Go, a player can collect Pokemons, increase his or her power, and evolve his or her characters. Moreover, a player can gain Pokemon Coins. The coins are collected either by winning them or by buying them.
A strong narrative of a game attributes a meaning to it, it makes the players engage more with it, and relate it to their daily lives. In Pokemon Go, the game is based on the story of Pokemon and its characters; it has all the elements of a story: characters, plot, theme, settings, conflict, and solution.
The unexpected from one level to another is critical in game design, this increases the curiosity of the player who is looking forward to what will happen next from one level to another. Pokemon Go increases the curiosity of the player in that it spreads out the Pokemons in different geographical locations, and a player needs to go and look for these Pokemons, thinking about: “What is waiting for me in that place?”.
Here I summarized seven points which I believe are good examples of game design that enable us to learn from Pokemon Go. All these points should be taken into consideration when designing a game. Both technology entrepreneurs and game designers can learn from these principles of game designing.