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Pokemon Go & Placemaking: The Positive Side Effects of Using Augmented Reality Applications

Henry Denyer-Simmons

Henry Denyer-Simmons’ (Australia) article and short film questions the perspective that technologies blending multiple realities are “enhancing” because people then proactively “make and share” rather than simply consume as users (Applin and Fischer 2011:1). His visual research project explores the recent global phenomenon Pokémon GO as medium for augmenting reality. Some common themes of augmentation that surfaced through interviews and an online questionnaire included an enhanced appreciation for physical nature, an increased wellbeing through greater exercise, as well as an aesthetic appreciation for blended reality images.

In Simmons’ experimental video accompanying the project – interview audio recordings are laid over images of the Bathurst (Australia) environs captured with a 360-degree Virtual Reality camera, illustrating the environment where his respondents used Pokémon GO to change and augment their realities.

Simmons’ conclusions strongly suggests that technologies used in Pokémon GO can make substantive changes to both place and meaning of place, and that they can meet anthropologists Applin and Fischer’s (2011) proactive criteria for enhancement, which is to make and share, not just consume. Importantly, this short project provides evidence that for some Pokémon GO can be a catalyst for positive physical and social experiences that they would have otherwise been unlikely to participate in. The project concludes with a model suggesting future design considerations regarding potential benefits of including bodily, social, and pro-activity elements in augmented reality experiences.

The findings contribute new evidence concerning the largely unexplored overlap between two anthropological fields - space and place research, and augmented reality – suggesting a value for focusing on the bodily and social in augmented reality research.

 

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