The IFTF Blog
Pokémon GO: Context-Aware Gaming is Here!
Pokémon GO shows us that context-aware gaming is here—and millions of people are ready to play.
Pokémon GO—the new mobile game from Niantic Labs with Nintendo and The Pokémon Co. that allows users to catch virtual Pokémon in the "real" world—has rapidly taken over the mobile universe. According to Reuters, over five percent of Android users had downloaded the game in just two days, and people are spending more time playing than on WhatsApp and Twitter. Already we've seen people use the game to target people for robberies and gather thousands of people at pop-up events. Even local governments are advising not to PokémonGO and drive.
— Ohio State Patrol (@OSHP) July 11, 2016
It may seem that Pokémon GO appeared overnight, but an IFTF forecast report from 2006 shows that this game has been years in the making.
In All the World's a Game: The Future of Context-Aware Gaming, a team led by IFTF researcher Jason Tester described a future in which the streets come alive through games that use real-time physical and digital information about players to shape how they play the game. The integration of physical and digital context would move the experience beyond what we’ve come to expect of games played in either the digital or physical worlds alone. In this world, gaming occurs anywhere, anytime, with anything, and formerly non-gaming objects (such as a crosswalk) suddenly take on dual identities. Players see spaces in the real world both for their traditional purposes and their roles in game stories.
IFTF's report describes the technology enablers of context-aware gaming that would emerge in the decade between 2006 and 2016. A few highlights include:
Mobile Devices | Handhelds Will Become Powerful Companions
Mobile devices will become even more powerful personal companions in our lives, and the boundaries between communicating, sensing, information-gathering, and gaming will continue to blur. Raw technology developments will aid this progression, including improvements to battery life and continued miniaturization of components. Screens on mobile devices, such as phones, will be bigger and brighter as organic LEDs replace LCDs, and new high-bandwidth cellular networks will deliver rich media experiences to these better displays.
GPS | Location Will Be a Filter for Everything
Inevitably smaller chipsets, better power consumption, and cheaper price tags will bring GPS capabilities to more mobile devices in the next ten years... Drivers who have enjoyed peace of mind and the way-finding capabilities of GPS units in their cars will want the same services for their mobile devices, and a new ecology of location-based offerings, including games, will emerge. Game devices like those made by Nintendo and Sony are widely rumored to include GPS chips in their next iterations, and these devices will be another driving force for new location-based services and games... Watch for a diverse ecology of location-based services to become ubiquitous quickly, and context-aware games will be leading-edge applications.
Sensors and RFID | A Bridge Between Gaming and Everyday Environments
As sensors become smaller and use less power, they’ll be integrated into more devices such as mobile phones, cars, furniture, and the built environment. If manufacturers open up the raw data from these sensors to be freely used by game developers, then many more environments will provide input to context-aware games. In addition, visual- and gesture-recognition sensors and software, including cameras, will make digital games a more kinesthetic experience. Cameras are standard in mobile devices today, and gesture-recognition components are now included in new models of mobile phones. The integration of cameras and gesture-recognition devices in the next versions of video game consoles from Nintendo and Sony will bring natural interfaces to millions of homes.
Video Gaming | Games Will Lead the Way Toward the Sensing Revolution
The era of sensing is rapidly bringing awareness of our context to the objects, devices, places, and networks we interact with daily. All indications suggest that this shift will be so profound in all aspects of our lives that context-aware games will begin an entirely new branch on the digital-gaming tree. Games that factor in, or entirely revolve around, some aspect of a player’s current situation will be at the leading edge of this sensory transformation and will facilitate even deeper connections between ourselves and the technologies we adopt. Context-aware games will attract entirely new types of players—many of whom never would have touched a traditional video game—and tap into unexplored voices, stories, and genres of game play.
Ten years later, these technological capacities we could once only imagine are now part of our everyday experience. If we imagine what the next wave of technological advancements holds—ubiquitous intelligence, virtual reality, ambient communications, wearable technology, blockchain technologies and virtual reality, and global connectivity—it is clear we are only at the beginning.
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