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Word is spreading. People are taking to the streets. Parks and cafes are becoming packed with people young and old all determined to become the next Poké-master. Within the first 6 days of its release, Pokémon Go, Nintendo’s new augmented reality video game, soared in rankings gaining more users that Tinder.

For those of you not already addicted to running around staring at your phone jumping with joy every time that you see a Pokémon appear on your screen or desperately walk three blocks just to reach a Poke-station that has a luring effect, you may be wondering what this craze is. Or, perhaps, you are wondering when everyone lost their minds. So, let me explain. Screenshot of the Gameboy Pokémon video game - prior to Augmented Reality.

To start at the beginning, Pokémon began in the 1990’s as a video game for the original Game Boy. If you were a 90’s child, you will remember Game Boys as your most prized possession and way to play video games – mainly because they pre-dated Smart Phones. Regardless, the fad of Pokémon took off and spun into other video games, trading card games, animated television shows and movies, comic books, and toys. Pokémon was so successful that it became the second-most popular and lucrative video game-based media franchise in the world, only falling behind Nintendo’s Mario franchise.

Now, with 2016 marking the 20th anniversary of the release of the original games Pokémon is going to a whole new level. Pokémon such as Pikachu, Squirtle, Charmander and more are taking to the streets. The Pokémon Company recently released the new mobile augmented reality game Pokémon Go. Utilizing augmented reality the game brings the Pokémon creatures to life in the real world allowing you to see your favourite creatures at the mall, in the park, even on your desk at work!

Further, as the App is overlaid on real road maps the user has to be active if they want to become the next Poké-master. Gone are the days of being able to block out the world as you sit on your couch with the curtains pulled tight and spend hour after hour racing cars, shooting zombies, or casting spells. With augmented reality, you have to be active. Whether that means walking to the park where the Pokémon are feeding to catch yourself a Zubat or walking up and down the street simply to try and get your eggs to hatch. PokemonnnnGo

Forcing people to engage with the world around them also forces video game users to interact with each other! Users from all over the city flock to the parks, alluring Poké-stops, and gyms in attempts to raise their level, a byproduct of which is running into and interacting with other Pokémon Trainers. Complete strangers find themselves teaming up to hunt down rare Pokémon, allied in the quest to catch them all.

So to the skeptics or the people shaking their heads wondering when everyone went crazy and why people are raving over this game realize its simple. This game combines simple goals and incentives, with the positive stimuli of playing a video game, the social interaction of hanging out with friends, and the added bonus of being able to do so outside of the house – not to mention the true love of a game played in childhood.

As one of the first releases of a game using augmented reality on a large scale, Pokémon Go has made it clear that augmented reality is the one of the next steps forward in the gaming industry.

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