Exploration: curiosity in action

At a very young age it can be observed that children are curious about their surroundings, seeking out what’s behind every curtain and under every stone. At the root of this curiosity is the pursuit of understanding; we yearn to recognize the world around us with its variety of spaces.  Some places are designated playgrounds, others hazards, some as boring swaths of nothing interesting, and others still as sacred places.

With the advent of Pokemon Go, the geolocation exploration game, we are seeing a resurgence in the pioneering sense of our former children explorer selves.  In as much as the world is falling back in love with their childhood memories of Pokemon, the game itself is fairly basic in terms of mechanics.  The incredible thing that Niantic (the game’s developer) has been able to accomplish, has been to reintroduce the player to their own neighborhood, along with their neighbors.  Gangs of children on bikes,  men and women of all ages are all taking their weekends as time to get lost in their neighborhoods and play together.

In so many games we seek out landmarks, interesting places we feel are our own unique discoveries.  By utilizing advanced global mapping via Google maps, Pokemon Go turns those obscure locations in the real world into incentivized in-game discoveries.

To seek out something new, to find something novel are at the core of many games’ objectives.  Within Pokemon Go the places you learn about can then be shared with people outside of the game.

Its popularity will be sustained not by the millions of fans of the franchise, but by the people who pick it up to use along their evening walk or their morning hike.  Its growth stems from the game’s ability to tap into and nurture our thirst for discovery and exploration.


Andrew Mantilla is a ludologist and video game journalist for Play Professor.  You can check out more of his content on Facebook, and Instagram.

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