NIU doctoral student sees educational benefits of Pokémon Go

SHARE NIU doctoral student sees educational benefits of Pokémon Go

Autumn James, a doctoral candidate in the Northern Illinois University Department of Geography, gives a presentation on how GPS data is used to create augmented reality games such as Pokemon Go. | Keith Hernandez/Daily Chronicle, distributed by the Associated Press

DeKALB, Ill. — A doctoral candidate in the Northern Illinois University Department of Geography argues that augmented reality gaming — like the newest craze, Pokemon Go — has educational benefits for those who otherwise would stay indoors.

Autumn James said augmented reality — a live direct or indirect view of the world augmented by computer graphics, sounds or GPS data — gives players a strong sense of the space around them.

James’ discussion earlier this month on the Northern Illinois University campus focused on Pokemon Go, a game for mobile devices in which players use GPS data to find and catch digital creatures known as Pokemon.

“They’re not just sitting in their living rooms playing in a virtual world. They’re going out in the real world, talking to people, interacting, learning about what is around them,” James said. “It’s teaching them how to more directly relate to the real world.”

Pokemon Go players James has spoken to said they are more aware of landmarks, streets and cardinal directions than they were before playing the game, she said.

James said she thinks this visualization of data is more than just a gimmick and will continue to evolve.

“For a long time, I thought this was going to be very short-lived,” James said. “But I have found, with the number of students I interact with, that it’s not just a kids thing, that parents are involved and people that wouldn’t necessarily be out and about. I think it’s going to be around for a while.”

All four members of the Ford family listened intently to the presentation in yellow shirts that stand for Instinct, one of three teams Pokemon Go players are able to choose from when they have advanced far enough into the game.

Ashley Ford, who plays the game with her husband, Rick, and two sons, Gabrielle and Seth, said the family was eager to attend an event that mixed learning and catching Pokemon.

“It’s been a fun summer bonding experience,” Ashley said. Her favorite Pokemon is Eevee, a small, foxlike Pokemon whose form changes based on its surroundings. “We get out a lot more. Not only is it more exercise, but what’s been really fun is how much fun everybody is having with it.”

Pokemon Go pushed augmented reality to the mainstream when it hit the app stores July 6, gaining more than 38 million downloads since, according to app marketing company Sensor Tower.

Distributed by the Associated Press

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