Unless you have been locked in a basement for the past month then you have likely been hearing about the latest craze that is Pokémon GO. It’s everywhere.
For the uninitiated, Pokémon GO is a free location-based mobile game that leverages GPS and mobile phone cameras. The point of the game is to use your phone to capture, battle, and train virtual creatures.
It’s more than a game that resides in your phone though. The physical world suddenly becomes the “board”. You are in the game rather than playing in the traditional third-person fashion.
As of July 22nd, the game has been downloaded by 40 million people, making it the most used smartphone app of all time.
So if you happen to see your neighbor acting a little bizarre in his front yard, no need to call the police. He’s probably in an intense virtual creature battle.
The Trend Will Fade, But…
As is true with every trend before it, the relevance of Pokémon GO will be limited. The game will soon be replaced by another.
However, what Pokémon GO has done is uncover the immense popularity for augmented reality games. It’s probably safe to assume that this genre of games will be with us for quite some time.
I can see this trend being applied to other segments in our population – particularly elearning & training initiatives (and apparently, I’m not alone in this thought). This is just further evidence that the rise of mobile learning is elearning’s next frontier.
Achieving Pokémon GO levels of user engagement is an instructional designer’s dream.
Imagine a training program where people are interacting with the content in an effort to meet critical learning objectives. In order to “win”, they have to learn, but it’s done in a fun and entertaining way.
It is not a stretch to imagine an organization creating their own internal training game that’s similar in concepts to Pokémon GO.
However, companies that do pursue this avenue need to focus on execution.
Just like setting up a few elearning courses doesn’t mean they will be successful, creating a company app that mimics Pokémon GO doesn’t guarantee it will be accepted and understood. Execution is everything.
Proper planning is needed. Core training development practices still very much apply. Hastily implementing an augmented reality training program would be costly.
All that said, this is an area that I will be watching with particular interest as the concepts are applied to our industry.