PokémonGo on debate

Recently I wrote a post on Facebook giving account of my relationship with the Pokemon Go. I’ve spent three days of use to see that, as an enthusiast “of the old times”, these days were enough; but as an academic researcher, it became clear that we must closely monitor innovations, trends and behaviors.

So here are some opinions on the Pokémon Go fever and hopefully a few reasons to discuss feelings like “apocalyptic or integrated” (to paraphrase the unforgettable Umberto Eco) that permeate our digitalized social relations.

Pokémon Go brings in its essence a bunch of concepts supported by authors and researchers in communication, media and correlates, which can positively or negatively explain the wave.

Let’s see:

- The game is based on augmented reality technology (AR) — already very well known and discussed — demonstrating a simple and direct way that the applicability of AR does not occur only in inaccessible worlds. Augmented reality is applicable to a succession of daily activities that may involve sociability processes, interaction, promotion, marketing, information, etc.

- Pokémon Go associates in a very interesting way two concepts: the storytelling and mobility, both well known and dissected; the difference is that the game’s narrative only occurs in user’s mobility status via its connection device. In this sense, it is necessary to rethink the logic of the protagonist as narration theorists, then, the game promotes a kind of exchange between multiple users that move characters and protagonists inside the game. We can consider that the game promotes a changing and dynamic narrative role, instilling a sense of infinitude to participants.

- The narrative proposed changing mobility leads us to identify the gamification of among users relations and especially the intensification of their sociability. Thus, we must consider the role of entertaining games as a vehicle of adherence among connected users to a series of offers, now playful, content that would generally be considered “formal”. Here we have seen experiences happening in Journalism and Education, among others.

- The augmented reality combination narratives + mobility + gamification put the analysis into the aspect of the spectacle of me, if we consider the Pokémon Go as a scanned vehicle visibility — users identify and make visible the social platforms due to the game; and also as an analog vehicle visibility as proposed POKEMON-stops, players concentration points in the real world, in the urban space. On this, the research developed by Paula Sibilia at UFF — Fluminense Federal University; and also it worth reading the latest book published by our research group — COM +.

Clearly not everything is in understanding the Pokémon Go effect. Privacy and ethics are recurring themes and deserve strong consideration.

First of all it is always good to remember that games of this type, as well as social media platforms, search engines, recommendation systems, e-commerce environments, among others, are commercial activities linked to private initiatives typical from the so called capitalist-neoliberal world, as such, they have the property of all information bits of any species that flow in these environments and also expect investments and lucrative benefits returns.

It is also important to consider that such private initiatives are not isolated from each other: the direct connection between a game, a mobile device, an email account and other geolocation in real time are evident — a value chain integrated and very profitable for its components.

Here we have a complex intersection between privacy protection aspects of individuals — that today fuses between the public sphere of concepts and private sphere, which in practice could call a hybrid sphere (subject discussed in event / book of ECA-USP); Inductive power of big data, offering all kinds of behavior and information about users of the game; and the unethical use and even invasive user-player profiles linked to its geolocation and, by extension, to lifestyle and social class.

The critical perspective on Pokemon Go, beyond what we have already noted, has shelter two views that I share — the geopolitics of the data and the action of informational capital, highlighted in posts of academic colleagues as Giselle Beiguelman and Sergio Amadeu da Silveira.

A matter of Nexo newspaper gives account of an unequal distribution of points of interest to the game for the urban landscape of large centers. The game, in itself, considered in its points geolocation map of higher socioeconomic density of a city like São Paulo, for example. In this sense, the geolocation heads for a “geo-political-location.” In the same vein, also has news that certain public spaces — schools more precisely, ask the Niantic, producer of the game, the withdrawal of these points in geolocalized map.

Be the inequality or the almost next intervention censorship is good to consider the handling of the format is directing the mapping to reach the kind of audience that matters to Niantic, Google and its partners to collect data and sensitive information of each user to feed the big date.

Corroborating the issue, a matter of the intercept is an extensive review of the Niantic-Google relationship and John Hanke — current CEO of Niantic and former responsible for Google’s Geo division, built much before the launch of Pokémon Go, indicating how Google Maps and Google Street View has the potential intervention in the privacy of users.

Well, we could continue discussing the pros and cons of Pokémon Go, is the strong subject. But our idea here is to foster debate and know the opinion of readers.

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