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Three things I learned by going to a Pokémon Go pub crawl

It may be the first augmented reality hit, but serious players turn off that aspect of the game.

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Foolishly spending most of the last few weeks with my family, I missed the early days of the Pokémon Go craze.

Ina Fried for Recode

Intrigued, though, I was more than eager to take part in this week’s Pokémon Pub Crawl in San Francisco to get a crash course in what everyone else had been up to.

I found it not just a good way to learn the game mechanics, but also to pick up some other big lessons from the record-breaking game phenomenon.

Here are my biggest takeaways:

  1. Pokémon may be the first big augmented reality hit, but serious players turn off the AR feature. It’s a drain on the battery and makes it harder to hunt the virtual varmints. While that may be true, it does raise the question of just how big a leap forward Pokémon Go is for augmented reality. (Even with the AR view turned off, it’s still a form of augmented reality, basing game play on one’s actual movements and location.)
  2. It’s an online game without a means for interacting with other players, but people actually long for a social component. Most of the people I talked to came to the event to engage with other humans rather than Pokémon creatures.
  3. San Francisco’s buses and streetcars make a very efficient way to visit lots of Pokéstops. Often criticized for their slower-than-the-slowest-car speed, the city’s public transit vehicles actually work well for Pokémon Go.

For more on the event, here is the Facebook Live piece I did, interviewing several of those who turned out for the meet-up.

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