Seeing... Realizing Future AR
When first deciding to observe and write about individuals in public playing mobile games on the mobile devices, I thought it would be difficult to get a grand perspective as I never really notice nor speak to those individuals playing the games because they are disconnected from social interaction having all their attention taken away from reality by the gaming world. Oddly, I did encounter one individual.
I met up with an old high school friend for a drink at a bar. He played Pokemon Go the entire time we were together. I thought it was rude. Regardless, he didn’t miss a beat. He was able to play the game and have an attentive conversation with me the entire time playing. Pokemon Go seems to be outdated at this point yet he was very engaged and assured me that not only did the game provoke him to travel to new areas, a physical activity, but that he met many new friends by becoming a regular player. After watching him play, I realized that there actually was an objective to it that would keep someone engaged if not borderline addicted to the game. The player is timed and earns points by catching Pokemon as well as engaging in a battle mode similar to Squaresoft’s Final Fantasy and Parasite Eve series. It was not difficult. He just kept jabbing his thumb into the screen in order to claim his prize.
A part of me felt it was sad yet another part of me believed that an escape from the harsh reality that is our planet’s current climate may help individuals to cope. Is that a good thing? Are we ignoring our problems? Is it a problem to communicate through speech? After the bar, I took a bus home. On the bus, I noticed the familiar scene; people playing on their phones. Many were checking social media but others were playing actual games. No one was interacting in the physical realm. No one spoke. No one even acknowledged the fact that other humans were around them. In fact, they seemed to be ignoring their surroundings. In a taboo world where, nine times out of ten, if someone actually speaks to you, one must assume that they are a paranoid schizophrenic with an addiction to methamphetamine. That simply is not the case. Where is the peace, love and understand? How can those things be accomplished without verbal communication? The world has been numbed by the dramas of the real life and would much rather participate in a sport for entertainment to pass the time. This isn’t a new concept. They dip into the virtual world where no one dies, no one gives their real name and no one cares to know it. Freedom of speech? Why not when you can hide behind the false face of an avatar? Pokemon Go may have found its success by bringing the two worlds together. It is a social game. How is this so? Because it is borderline augmented reality. The map in the game is real. It displays one’s location in real time and encourages the mass collection of players to travel to the same location in order to garner points. It can’t be all that bad, right?
Soon enough, we will date online avatars that we pretty much create ourselves. We can already become online-famous to individuals whom we’ve never met. Instead of sitting down together with family and discussing one’s day, we will group text message or facetime. The desensitization of our society may or may not bring peace to our reality but it sure can be fun. I think the repercussions will be the complete fall of trust that one can only gain through human interaction. Eye contact. Listening and engaging in real-time conversation is the best route but I now understand that in such an attention deficit world perhaps escaping reality is not such a burden. I mean, who could blame someone for wanting to escape the turmoil of being reunited with an old high school friend for a drink when there are cute Pokemon to collect? I don’t think I will be meeting up with my old friend in the future.
Check out this short... Hyper-Reality by Keiichi Matsuda