Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 12, 2016

Success of Pokemon Go spells doom for Virtual Reality

Pokemon Go is the biggest video game phenomenon since… Wii Sports? All Pokemon Go is Ingress with pokemon instead of portals. I know game developers who have been addicted to Ingress. Goes to show the power of the IP.

“I am playing Pokemon Go because I need to walk outside.” This was said to me by a 30 year old woman who NEVER plays video games.

Back when the Wii launched, I imagined something with the Wii-mote where you could play Duck Hunt with it but play it outside… like shoot the fantasy ducks in the sky. This is somewhat where I thought.

The secret to the Wii’s success was that it did the OPPOSITE of Virtual Reality. Virtual Reality is about REMOVING reality and REMOVING you from the world (and people). Wii did the opposite. Wii brought people together and the games did not remove you from the real world. People liked the Wii’s mission. They wanted their own house parties and thought it great to be bowling or playing tennis with the motion controller.

Pokemon Go, as that woman’s reason for playing it, is ironic in video games because we always associate video games with STAYING INSIDE. But is this true? Is this fair?

VIDEO GAMES ARE ABOUT BEING ALONE. No they aren’t. Even from the beginning, this wasn’t true.

VIDEO GAMES ARE ABOUT NOT BEING SOCIAL. But PONG and Donkey Kong started out at bars. You had to go outside to go to the arcade. And consoles have always been about multiplayer gaming.

So why have we assumed video games are about being inside? Even with the mobile cell phone games, we assumed that they were mobile games, not OUTSIDE GAMES. The paradigm shift matters.

Motion games were great because it forced us to re-realize that a video game wasn’t sitting around. Pokemon Go is making everyone realize that a game doesn’t have to be inside.

It is expanding our definition of gaming. This is why there is so much excitement for it. It is attracting all sorts of players.

We could even enter a generational divide where ‘old school’ video games meant playing games inside while ‘new school’ games meant playing video games outside. Sounds shocking to you? Welcome to future.  Your grandparents were probably shocked at internet, computers, and lasers. Time marches on.

Nintendo’s stock is soaring.

We need to pay close attention to Nintendo at the moment. This Pokemon Go could transform the entire company. Then again, Pokemon Go could be a ‘fad’ (oh, that word! Remember when they always used to say it!?) that vanishes within a couple of months. We will see.


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