As a tech writer for the Jewish Link of New Jersey, I usually pick my subjects from day-to-day tech issues that I encounter from GCG’s clients. Many times I learn more from clients than from anyone else.
Usually I will write my column and ask for the editor and publisher’s feedback. Though on this particular subject I came to the Jewish Link offices and personally requested to write this column.
To be honest I haven’t been much of a gamer since back in my youth. It seems this Pokemon Go phenomenon exploded over night. Of course all good tech professionals always download an app on their PC or smartphone and test it out. I have done this too many times to even count.
I firmly believe that virtual reality will be the next wave of technological breakthrough, as we are seeing with 3D printing. Though in a future column I will expand more on virtual reality.
Many have probably done what I did— downloaded Pokemon Go and played the first five minutes without getting too much into the game. The game is played on a smartphone. I have seen it more on Android phones than anything else.
In the first seconds of play Pokemon Go asks you for access to your Gmail, camera and GPS. That’s an odd request. The game launches; I am on the deck in my backyard. I point my smartphone at my lawn (totally green after I wrote my column last summer about tech and landscaping). I see the Pokemon Go monster on my flowers and I am trying to throw the Pokemon ball on the grass. It’s amazing when you first realize that your environment and life settings becomes the game. How amazing is that? After five minutes I figured out I have to hit the Pokemon Go with the ball. Once you kill the monster you get a reward.
So what’s really different from any other game? While playing I can point the smartphone camera at my grass and make it part of the game—this is called augmented virtual reality.
All the jokes you see on Facebook about people falling off the curb or into manholes are because Pokemon Go wants you to look at your phone. You will see your Pokemon Go avatar walking but what makes this game amazing is that you are
actually walking on a real street. To make the game more exciting the Pokemon Go monsters are set up at landmarks and locations. I have read that Holocaust museums and concentration camps have Pokemon Go monsters. Which is terrible. Obviously there is an appropriate landscape for Pokemon Go and a concentration camp is for sure not it.
What Pokemon Go has done is taken the player out of their bedroom or basement and gotten them moving. That part I love and I think the options for this is endless. Let’s say a college campus wants to have an Open House. What better way
to have potential students see the whole campus that by making an augmented VR game? They can offer prizes at every location with a guided tour. Then offer something like a gift card if you get all the prizes. My college friend Yosef Levine made a post on Facebook that Chabad houses across the US should do something like that. I love that idea.
Something that popped into my head: I wonder if someone is, God forbid, in rehab for an injury. The hardest part is maneuvering through their house. Maybe an augmented VR game can be made to mimic all the stairs, walls and rooms in the home.
My thinking is that the gaming industry has brought us so much. The best RAM chips known to man are in these game devices. I hope the augmented VR game can be made to have students make a mock Beis Hamikdash and maybe walk
through the actual temple and see different areas.
Here is what my research shows. This is not for kids! I interviewed Dovid and Issur Stadtmauer. I asked some questions about the game as I know they are gamers and family friends. Besides, their father is our attorney so I am covered there on any misquotes. They actually have never played Pokemon Go.
The game requires GPS and an unlimited or large data plan. Most kids if they have a smartphone are urged to use Wi- Fi or limit the 3g usage. Pokemon Go requires that you move around in non-Wi-Fi areas. The target age I am thinking is maybe 13–14 and above. One also needs to be able to move around these areas freely. Most kids are not allowed to go to most neighborhoods or areas without a parent. Which means the parents are playing with them?
Technology never ceases to amaze me. They say there are more Pokemon Go users then there are Twitter users. That’s a very big number.
One obvious warning here. Be aware of your surroundings and do not go to areas that are dangerous or close to a river’s edge. Pokemon Go has these monsters everywhere. Use some common sense.
Augmented VR is here. Stay tuned—I am sure Pokemon Go is one of many more games like this to come.
Shneur Garb is the CEO of the Garb I.T. Consulting Group LLC in Teaneck, NJ. Shneur manages educational, medical and business networks. Any questions or comments, email [email protected]