Pokémon Go Encourages You to Collect Gym Badges as You Roam the (Real) World

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The promise of Pokémon Go is undeniable: it’s a mobile game made by Niantic, the creators of the game Ingress, which encourages players to roam around in real life in order to interact with in-game monsters. It’s a gaming format that seems to fit perfectly with the world of Pokémon — at least, that’s what Nintendo and The Pokémon Company Group seemed to think when they decided to partner with Niantic on the project.

John Hanke, chief executive of Niantic, told GamesBeat:

Mr. Ishihara [the CEO of the Pokémon Company] is now a very high-level Ingress player. His wife is an Ingress player. Both of them were higher-level than me when I first met them. It was great to work with a partner that got it from the beginning. They saw Ingress as a perfect match for Pokémon. We were practically finishing each other’s sentences. Ingress, you conquer portals. Pokémon, obviously, you’d go out into the real world and find Pokémon and battle them against other players and trade them and go to gyms. That’s how it’s going to work. Let’s do it.

You may not be able to literally cuddle all of the Pokémon that you collect, but the format does encourage a lot of exploration and discovery — even for folks who live in more remote, secluded areas. Hanke explains,

We’ve learned a lot on those fronts with Ingress. Even if you’re in a small town — I grew up in a town of 1,000 people in Texas. We had that as a design goal. If we’re going to build a game that works with location, it has to be fun for people anywhere to play, in small towns as well as San Francisco. If we designed something that only worked in San Francisco, it wouldn’t be a real success. We wanted it to work globally …

I feel like we’ve learned a lot of lessons from Ingress that we’ll bring to Pokémon. We’ll make sure you can play it everywhere.

Just like IngressPokémon Go will also encourage players to seek out locations in their towns that they ordinarily wouldn’t — such as unusual landmarks and historical spots. Hopefully, players won’t be so focused on battling that they don’t stop to enjoy the sights! Hanke emphasizes that this is also part of the company’s ethos, in addition to making a compelling game: the player should also “get your head out of the phone and hopefully take in more of what’s around you.”

What do you think about this concept for a Pokémon game? Are you planning to wander the streets of your hometown as a Pokémon Go trainer in 2016?

(via EW, image via Wikia)

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Maddy Myers
Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (relay.fm/isometric), and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (robotknights.com).