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San Diego Players Hooked On Pokémon Go

A screenshot from a trailer for Pokémon Go.
Niantic Inc.
A screenshot from a trailer for Pokémon Go.

San Diego Players Hooked On Pokémon Go
San Diego Players Hooked On Pokémon Go GUEST: Sarah Jeong, contributing editor at VICE Motherboard, Poynter fellow at Yale University

To coin a phrase, San Diegans have not been immune to the Pokémon praise -- craze. The new game Pokemon Go uses augmented reality that makes it appear as if creatures from the videogame franchise are in the real world, right in front of your phone's camera. The game encourages players to walk and two dozen avid fans set out on a hike this weekend at Torrey Pines State natural preserve. There's a Pokémon right over there. I just caught it, hopefully my screen doesn't freeze. I got it. I'm on this hike with my best friend and my sister. We usually don't exercise. This is out of our comfort zone. I feel like it's better than going to the gym, because you actually are playing. It's getting addicting. We will see if that addiction lasts. IA go on may be one or two hikes a year. What sparked this was I can relate to Pokémon. We all talk about the game. You are talking to complete strangers. Last night, we were just talking to some guy just randomly. I'm level X, I've been playing since they released it. I downloaded it within an hour. It's the completion factor for me, I just want to see what other Pokémon I can find. I think it's kind of interesting to watch the social implications. There's a hike that's been planned around it, where I live you can tell who is playing it and who is not. I have the game so I know where all the pokestops are. You can see where people are playing. You can see people walking around town chasing a Pokémon. I use the game to plan walks to my dog. We moved to a new neighborhood. It adds a different aspect of exploration to my new neighborhood. I would've done it anyway, but it would have taken me longer to get out. That was Adriella Zdru, Randy Belknap and Lauren Attkisson . I spoke with Sarah Jeong, a contributing editor year -- for VICE Motherboard. Most people know about Pokemon Go , or they have heard of it. Talk to us about augmented reality. How do these creatures appear in various locations? You point your phone at the street or a tree or an animal or inside your home. You can see through the camera, your typical screen view, but you also see a Pokémon interposed over whatever you are seeing. It looks as though there is a cartoon monster hanging out. It's just slapped on there. There's nothing fancy about it. It's fun, you are seeing a layer of reality that you don't normally see. Have there been popular a our games before -- augmented reality games. Why has it taken off so quickly? It's a terribly made game. Part of it is the lasting nostalgia around Pokémon. People thought it was a fad in the it was over. Clearly, that's not the case two decades later, people still love Pokémon. There's the other thing, big things tend to get bigger. The more people play it, the more others want to. It's like how everyone started reading Harry Potter, you have a fear of missing out. What if you done while playing the game? I've had a great time. I have wandered around my city, I have discovered landmarks, monuments, community gardens, that I've never seen before. I've taken streetcars, taken really slow weekends wandering around and playing the game with friends. I've hung out with friends in bars, just chatting, but we are also playing Pokémon. You write an opinion piece for the New York Times, in that you say the game broke the bubbles we've built around ourselves. How is this game broken those bubbles? I got to talk to a neighbor that I've never spoken to before because of Pokemon go. I thought the striking thing was that I was standing on the street holding my phone up and trying to catch a Pokémon. He had his headphones on, walking his dog. He stopped and took his headphones out to talk to me about what I was doing. We had both sort of, had our own things going on, rather than me being isolated from others because of Pokemon go, I was puncturing through other people's walls. We have game that's able to create these civic connections. Where do we go from here with that whole idea? Pokemon go is a great concept. It's proven to everyone that augmented reality games can be a big deal and be really fun and are accessible. Even if Pokemon Go is not a lasting fad , now we know that augmented reality is fun. We can have more of those games. There is always this danger that augmented reality will become corporatized. Right now, the game is mapped onto CDs as collections of art history, landmarks, centers of civic importance. That changes the entire dynamic. If future augmented reality games take public interest to heart, the future is bright. These are moneymaking enterprises. Future games will be centered around corporations. Some people here, in San Diego actually fell off a cliff chasing Pokémon. Players are finding dead bodies, there are reports of -- In caves -- Inappropriate places. What do you see is a downside? People are getting stuck in caves and falling on clips -- off of cliffs before Pokémon. People should be carry about how they play Pokemon Go , as careful as they are with just walking down the street and the general life choices that they make. A lot of this is, falling off a cliff plus Pokemon Go as opposed to being tran04's -- Pokemon Go 's fall. The point is watch where you're going. Words to live by. Once the furor dies down. You see a lasting impact? A lasting impact is that we will see more augmented reality games in the future. It's about high time, this sort of stereotype of the video gamer being an introvert hiding in the basement, disconnected, that's got to go way. It's been outdated for a while. I don't know if it was ever really true, no -- no it's plain to see. We are in public safety -- places. That's a true and proven. So you will keep on playing. I am. I love this game. I don't know if I will be playing in two months. But I do love this game. I've been speaking with Sarah Jeong. Thank you, so much.

Pokémon Go players found a Pinsir, a type of Pokémon, during a hike July 17, 2016 at Torrey Pines State Natural Preserve.
Michael Lipkin
Pokémon Go players found a Pinsir, a type of Pokémon, during a hike July 17, 2016 at Torrey Pines State Natural Preserve.

Ariella Zdru was one of about two dozen San Diegans hunting for elusive Pokémon on Sunday in Torrey Pines State Natural Preserve. Zdru eventually spotted a creature called a Nidoran and swung her phone to her left to capture it.

“Hopefully my screen doesn’t freeze,” she said.

Zrdu and the other hikers were playing Pokémon Go, the augmented reality game that has been downloaded millions of times and is the top-grossing smartphone app for both Apple and Android devices.

Pokémon Go debuted earlier this month and allows players to catch digital Pokémon characters as they walk around. The game uses augmented reality, making it appear on a player’s screen that various Pokémon are in the real world.

“Pokémon Go is the most popular (augmented reality) game that’s ever existed,” said Sarah Jeong, a contributing editor for science and technology site VICE Motherboard and a Poynter Fellow in journalism at Yale University.

Jeong has been playing the game frequently, discovering community gardens and street art as she tracks Pokémon across San Francisco. Despite calling it a “terribly made game” due to frequent bugs, she still sees value in the game’s ability to allow players to meet up and explore new places.

“The stereotype of the video gamer being an introvert, hiding in their basement, disconnected from reality, that’s got to go away,” Jeong said. “It’s plain for everyone to see: We’re outside gathering together in big public spaces and we’re interacting with each other. That’s a real, true and now proven potential of video games.”

Zdru said she rarely hikes, but the game prompted her and some friends to be more active.

"We usually don’t exercise, so this is going out of comfort zones," she said. "There’s just a hype to it and I feel it and it’s getting addicting. We’ll see if that addiction lasts."

Jeong joins KPBS Midday Edition on Monday to share what Pokémon Go could mean for the future of augmented reality.