Pokémon Go

Pokémon Go: Who Really Cares?

By now you have probably heard something about the new game that’s all the rage: Pokémon Go. Pokémon Go has already seen 7.5 million downloads just since last week and with all the recent publicity, it will likely do more.

If you don’t know, in simple terms, Pokémon Go uses your phone’s GPS and clock to detect where and when you open the app and play the game. Once the app is opened, Pokémon “appear” around you (on your phone screen which also sees and displays the real world around you) so you can go and catch them. As you move around, different and more types of Pokémon will appear depending on where you are and what time it is.

In addition, you can obtain “equipment” to help catch the Pokémon by going to real physical locations. My office building for example was a site that provided a few balls needed to catch the Pokémon. The mural across the street was another such site. The idea is to encourage you to travel around the real world to equip yourself and then catch Pokémon in the game. This is why you may have noticed people walking around you like zombies with their heads glued to their phone screens.

The game forces you to get outside and get some exercise. In addition, it’s uniquely social. Friends tell each other where to catch Pokémon and you can meet people virtually anywhere playing the game. Pokémon Go encourages people to collaborate and work in teams. And since the instructions on how to play are not published anywhere, working with others can be quite helpful.

Frankly, it’s cool to be playing Pokémon Go right now.

Pokémon Go uses technology referred to as augmented reality (AR). Somewhere between virtual reality, which creates immersive, computer-generated environments, and the real world, augmented reality is closer to the real world. AR adds graphics, sounds, haptic feedback and someday soon, even smell to the natural world as it exists. AR content can for example be accessed by scanning or viewing a trigger image with a mobile device that creates a subsequent action. This action can be a video, another image, 3D Animations, Games, QR code, or whatever you want it to be.

For football and hockey fans, AR has been part of your life for quite some time. The first down line and the very early hockey puck glow were some of the first uses of AR during live broadcasts. Its use in the sporting context has been gradually increasing and is now the norm and expectation. (How quickly we get irritated when the first down line doesn’t appear for example.)

Why should those of us in the legal business care about what some might view as a silly game? Apart from the legal issues-bodily injury to oblivious players, car crashes, privacy concerns—the fact is we are in the communications business. We communicate with our clients, we communicate with jurors, we communicate with lawyers on the other side, sometimes we even communicate with each other in the same organization. How well and how persuasively we communicate directly influences how successful we will be. So the fact that games like Pokémon Go influences expectations for the use of AR as a communications tool should be important to us. To use an analogy, many of us can relate to: in a very short period of time, PowerPoint has gone from experimental technology to an expected communication tool. If you have an important meeting or argument, you better have a PowerPoint. AR will be the same: it will soon pass from being used in a fun game to an effective and important communication tool (if it hasn’t already).

And games like this tell us something about changing expectations of teamwork to solve problems. The truth is most people like to work in teams to solve problems, especially when the rules or facts aren’t clear. Its fairly well documented especially among millennials that this problem solving approach is much preferred over the old style of “do what I tell you to and don’t ask questions”. And the educational community is already seeing the influence of a team problem solving AR driven approach versus the old rote style of learning.

So it will be in legal service community. To succeed in our business, we therefor need to pay attention to technology and how it influences expectations for the communication of information and how problem solving approaches (i.e., learning-which at a very base level is what we want our communications to effectuate) are evolving with the technology. The spirit of Comment 8 to Model Rule 1.1 contemplates this very thing and is what we should aspire to anyway.

So if you want to have some fun and see how AR can be an important communication tool, download Pokémon Go (it’s free) and give it a go guilt free. And yes, there is a probably a Pokémon or two in your office you can go catch!

Image courtesy of: Krista Kennell / Shutterstock.com

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