Now that Harrison, my eldest son is in college, the rest of the family likes to meet him for breakfast every Sunday. We drive about 45 minutes to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and have breakfast at a nearby café. After breakfast we all walk around the adjacent lakefront. While walking, we attempt to catch the various Pokémon that surround the lake and nearby retail shops.

When Pokémon Go first came out, I admit that I wrote it off as a quickly fading fad. Then Bill Debevc (of BIMThoughts fame) got me hooked during #RTCNA in Scottsdale. Thanks Bill!

First of all, Pokémon Go appeals to a very basic human desire to find and collect things. Secondly, Harrison is quick to point out that Pokémon is a lot about statistics, mathematics and strategy along with an ongoing element of discovery and surprise that continually keeps the game interesting.

But there’s another aspect: Pokémon Go makes you go outside to be successful. Imagine that – the video game that wants you to go outside. As a result, we’ve been taking a lot more family walks – especially around a nearby tennis club each evening. Not only do we find and catch the odd Pokémon as we walk but we’re incubating eggs in the process.

Please note: I totally understand if that last paragraph didn’t make any sense. You might want to start over here: https://pkmngowiki.com/wiki/Main_Page

To an outsider, Pokémon Go probably looks like people acting like robots not being “in the present”. Just look at everyone: they’re walking around and staring down at their phone! But if played with  a group of friends, you’ll find there is a really fun social aspect as well. Hey look at that– there’s even Pokémon in Puerto, Portugal!

pokecrewSo what does this have to do with architecture?

As architectural technologists, it seems we tend to focus on  the challenge in front of us – that of solving problems that increase efficiency, save time and money. So much is being written about augmented reality that has to do with design and construction. But did you know that Pokémon Go has generated over $250million in revenue since being launched two months ago?

If architects are so smart, why aren’t we thinking about the gameifcation of augmented reality and architecture? People need to find things. Finding things are often inside of buildings. What other opportunities for knowledge, discovery and history are embedded in buildings? What if you could learn about the team that designed and constructed a building through augmented reality simply (and only) by being in proximity to the building?

Something to think about as you walk around Porto in a few weeks trying desperately to catch a Mr. Mime!

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