Pokemon Go: Augmented Reality

The problem:

Virtual reality, for all its advocates has one clearly apparent shortcoming: the absence of integration with daily human behavior. A virtual world is one separate from the one we physically live in. Augmented Reality, on the other hand, uses technology to connect us with real world experiences. A prime example of this is Pokemon Go, which launched the first successful AR-based gaming app in 2016. In this post, we will examine Pokemon Go as a success case for integrating AR into our entertainment seamlessly.


Pokemon Go is a game in which characters are overlaid on the real built environment throughout the world, featured in areas of note or importance. The primary purpose of the game is to obtain a list of different pokemon monsters, all of which are located in different places. Along the way you have to recharge, and hunt for monsters that rank in rarity or availability and location.

The game overlays a virtual interface to the real world map on your cellphone and can sense your habits and project different goals and objectives depending on the user.


The game is highly dependent on user network effects to determine which characters appear in different locations. It does this by running algorithms on desired  or “rare” characters and then featuring them for brief moments in uncommon locations. The users then communicate with each other through the platform to share news of each rare sighting to and eventually congregate in the same area.

Using AR, the game has enabled users to connect to a virtual reality world and incentivises activity which has then been used to relate back to the real world. A clear example of this would be businesses that pay a fee to be listed as a “pokestop” where game players can recharge their lives, and in doing so patronise the store. This has taken marketing to a whole different level and created a separate platform for businesses to target the user demographic that play the game.

The game has also been able to simultaneously overlay reality with virtual reality without the use of any special hardware (like a VR headset or console). In doing so, an artificial environment has been created on the users mobile phone, surpassing the multiple levels of stimulus that you would receive from the real world image presented. This offers the ability for this sort of AR platform to engage users through a myriad outreach mechanisms extremely effectively.

The Future of AR

Pokemon Go is an example of how effective blending the physical and virtual worlds can be in a user experience. This was the first time AR was brought to a mass audience. The rapid adoption and wild success of the game shows that AR is very much technology that’s here to stay, and can be implemented on existing platforms without too much effort. This opens the door to multiple future uses, beyond chasing a yellow cartoon character around town.






Team Awesome

One thought on “Pokemon Go: Augmented Reality

Leave a Reply