Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Monday, July 11, 2016

Pokemon Go and Gamification

It is not difficult at all to imagine how a game like Pokemon Go could end up being truly revolutionary.  The reason is that foot traffic is a hugely important and valuable attribute of real estate.  Also, foot traffic tends to make areas safer, because it is more difficult to commit crimes in crowded areas (particularly crowded areas where a lot of people are taking pictures with smartphones).

So it is easy to imagine corporations and/or governments "gamifying" foot traffic by making particular streets rich in Pokemon (or whatever it is that draws Pokemon Go characters to some places and not others).  This could be used for good or bad ends, of course.  The most obvious application is to increase the number of people visiting a retail or dining district, where they are likely to spend some money.  In particular, anything that is easy to market to Pokemon fans should provide an obvious revenue source for the game's creator, which can charge money to send people nearby.  Cities could try to induce traffic in pedestrian areas to keep them safe (though of course it would be important to keep traffic high enough that the players don't just become victims themselves).  And I'm sure there are other applications I'm not thinking of.  (One possibility:  to maximize profit opportunities, the game will need to use targeted advertising, which means it will need to segregate people by their tastes, buying propensity, etc.  It's conceivable that games like this will further fracture our society into smaller pieces, although at the moment the game seems to be having the opposite effect.)

I don't know how I feel about this.  I guess I think that, as in so many other aspects of modern life, the tradeoff will involve giving up a certain amount of personal autonomy and dignity in exchange for entertainment and profit.

EDITED TO ADD:  This is obviously a joke, but it's the kind of thing I'm talking about.  Could actually work!  Bring people to the garden on a nice day, they may come back.  You don't want to annoy your existing patrons, but that's not a huge risk on uncrowded days.

EDITED FURTHER TO ADD:  There are pitfalls, of course:


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