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The Monday Musing - Is AR gaming the future of mobile?

By , on August 21, 2017
Last modified 11 months ago

Well, Monday has stumbled over, yelling about what an amazing weekend it had. It probably didn't do any of things it's telling you, but just nod and smile and tell it that it sounds like it had a blast and hopefully it'll go away pretty soon.

The only good thing about Monday is that it's when I get to write the Monday Musing, which as I'm sure you'll agree is the single greatest piece of regular content that's ever had the word Monday in its title. Don't try and think of any others, you won't be able to.

Anyway, this week I'm going to have a good old muse about AR gaming. Is it the future of mobile, or is it another flash in the pan that's going to fizzle about before it's even really fizzled up? I don't really know, but let's talk about it anyway.

AR you paying attention?

AR gaming uses the camera on your phone to essentially gamify the world around you. The best example is probably Pokemon GO. You know, those Pokemon aren't actually there in front of you, it's just your phone pretending that they are.

Obviously Pokemon GO was, and remains, something of a smash hit. Why only last week I saw a bunch of people sat around in a park frantically poking at their phones in order to capture some rare beast or another.

But on the flip-side of that, you'd be hard pressed to think of another game that's captured the mobile-gaming consciousness in the same way. There are definitely other AR games out there, but none of them with the oomph of Pokemon behind them.

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That's not to say that the next big thing isn't on the way. But the thing with Pokemon go is that it perfectly blended technology and theme. It just makes sense to go out and capture Pokemon. Throw in some step-based hatching and you're on to a winner.

Other games, like Ingress, have tried to build their games around capturing territory. You're on one team or another, and you need to hang out in different places to take them over and paint them in your team's hue on the map.

It's sort of like geocaching, but with more of a backstory and less of a having to admit you're going geocaching. They're fun, but unless you live in a town inhabited by a lot of other players, you're not going to get the full experience.

And that's where Pokemon GO gets it so right. It's essentially a single player game. Yes, it's got multiplayer elements, but you're playing for yourself. The social element arises from the natural social element of hanging around in a place with a bunch of other Poke-nerds.

If AR gaming is going to take off, then that's the sort of spirit that it needs to capture. Otherwise it's going to remain an interesting, but ultimately doomed novelty. There are some great possibilities here, but it's up to devs to really make the most of them.


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