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Will Pokémon Go inspire learning games?

July 19, 2016

Pokemon Go screenshot.jpg

Pokémon Go is an augmented reality (AR) game that asks you to go outside (a good thing) and look for virtual creatures to capture, train, and battle. Point your phone at the right locations and your screen shows little monsters superimposed over the real-world image. The game was released on July 6 and within a week it had been downloaded 25 million times! At the end of this article are resources for learning more about this phenomenon.

Augmented reality is not virtual reality (VR). AR keeps users in the real world while they interact with virtual objects, while VR immerses users in a fabricated world with the help of headgear (e.g., Oculus) or an avatar (e.g., Second Life).

AR games and apps are not new, but Pokémon Go has increased by leaps and bounds the number of people who have experienced it firsthand. Six years ago The Horizon Report said the technology was only a couple of years away from having widespread impact on teaching and learning; this year’s report says the same thing. Maybe the current craze will motivate educators to take a new look at the potential applications of AR in teaching and learning.


I’m a big fan of Aris, the University of Wisconsin’s free tool for creating (and app for playing) augmented reality games, tours and interactive stories. Several years ago our lab used it to create a simple tour/game designed to help new students get to know Notre Dame’s South Quad. There was very little uptake, partly because few people had the smartphones required to play. Now would be a great time to resurrect that game.

Full disclosure: Aris is a relatively easy tool to use, but designing and building a compelling game – let alone a game for learning – is very difficult.

(the basic elements of an Aris game)

Augmented Reality

Pokémon Go

[Image source: Wikipedia]

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