‘Pokemon Go’ platform not new, but phenomenon is, say UGA experts

July 13, 2016

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Athens, Ga. — University of Georgia experts — from engineers to players to exercise scientists — are available to comment on the current "Pokemon Go" phenomenon. Their advice, which includes not tying your phone to your dog, is that the game isn't for the casual gamer but that it is a good way to get kids moving.

Shira ChessShira Chess

Assistant professor, entertainment and media studies

Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Mobile: schess@uga.edu

She teaches digital media studies with an emphasis on gender and gaming. In addition to teaching, Chess has worked as a game developer and web designer. She has published works on "Ingress," the game "Pokemon Go" was based on and has been playing the game.

"‘Pokemon Go' is an effective use of multiple technological shifts that have occurred over the past five years. While the platform is not new-it is based on Niantec's previous game, "Ingress"-the game takes the structural format and integrates a game space that many millennials are already familiar with. However, part of the success of the game is that by using the "Ingress" base, Niantic essentially had three years of productive play-testing and data gathering. In general, augmented reality games are an excellent use of mobile technologies to create local community engagement."


Grace AhnSun Joo (Grace) Ahn

Assistant professor, advertising

Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Contact: sjahn@uga.edu (Ahn is teaching overseas right now but can arrange interviews via Skype)

Ahn specializes in research examining how social media, video/internet games, and immersive virtual environments influence user attitude and behavior.

"This may be a fun game, but remember that you're still in the physical world, with physical objects. Be mindful of your surroundings and no matter how enticing the ‘catch' is, don't enter areas that seem unsafe. It's not worth it.

"Parents, keep a close eye on your children if you are allowing them to play "Pokemon Go" on their own. In the heat of the game, children may not be making the safest choices. Everyday ‘stranger danger' rules should still apply-just because a stranger is also playing "Pokemon," it doesn't make them an instant friend.

"The whole point of the game should be to enjoy the outdoors, feel good about exercising, and discovering new friendships with people. If you have to resort to clever shortcuts (e.g., tying your device to your dog) to hatch the eggs instead of putting in the effort yourself, the game won't be as fun for you in the long run."

Kyle JohnsenKyle Johnsen

Associate professor of engineering

College of Engineering

Contact: 706-583-8166, kjohnsen@uga.edu

Expertise: virtual reality and multimodal 3-D user interfaces

"It is a daring and potentially transformative social media experiment. It really is more than a game."

"There are some elements of the game that will create some policy issues because it encourages people to go into places to look for Pokemon and in some cases this borders on trespassing. What's the company's responsibility for protecting these areas? Also, who is allowed to plant Pokemon within your space?"

"The potential for businesses to use the game for marketing is unique because they can offer special Pokemon within their space. There is a way to monetize the game and that's very powerful. To any company looking for unique ways to reach a young audience, this is a great opportunity."

"‘Pokemon Go' isn't for the casual gamer because players have to physically go to places to locate certain Pokemon, but it's already developed a massive fan base. It's a phenomenon."

PiipariSami Yli-Piipari

Assistant professor

College of Education

Department of kinesiology (children's physical activity and fitness)

Contact: syp@uga.edu, 706-542-4462 (office), 901-233-1019 (mobile)

Sami Yli-Piipari researches ways to educate children to be more physically active, with a focus on using technology as a tool to engage them in physical activity. One of the ways he is working to motivate children to be more active is in game development, and Yli-Piipari has been working with several startup companies to use smartphone GPS systems to control movements in a game.

"The big thing about these games, based on our research, is that kids are really motivated to play in the first place. But the games have to be good in order to engage the player for a longer time," he said. "But if the game is good, then it will get them to be more physically active."

Rodney DishmanRodney K. Dishman

Professor, department of kinesiology (exercise science)

College of Education

Contact: 706-542-9840, dishman@uga.edu

Dishman studies the mental health outcomes associated with physical activity, as well as the forces that determine how or if someone chooses to exercise. Dishman says it's more about the time spent doing an activity, rather than the activity itself.

"Once you start moving, you can later try other less enjoyable but healthful activities. Nothing breeds success like success, so most people need more than encouragement and role models."

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