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Eduqas GCSE Sample Student Workbook

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Lesson 12: The Pokémon Go Audience

Pokémon Go has elements of the Role-Playing Games set in an AR (Artificial Reality) environment.

Although it has many elements of the classic RPG the game cleverly adapts and re-shapes these conventions to its marriage with AR.

It retains the emphasis on statistics – the collection of Pokémon and the training up of these; the Gym battles etc. – and some elements of the overall linear narrative of the classic RPG. The graphics are also reminiscent of the earlier RPGs, being highly stylised rather than any attempt to constructs a more realistic creature in the style of a Jurassic Park etc.

Whilst classic RPGs often have two locations, Pokémon has a vast location – the entire world! Though we could infer that we have the ‘village’ (the world where we walk, find Pokémon’s and interact with other gamers (‘villagers’); the second location being the Gyms where the battles take place.

Pokémon Go strips out much of these essential elements to construct an appealingly simple mini-game, similar to simple time killing apps, that enables gamers to dip in and out and not have to learn complex commands or rules.

In order to progress in the game, gamers have to leave the home, with incentives built into the game structure for the walking distance a gamer covers.

This seems to offer a challenge to the older, stereotypical representation of gamers as inactive and antisocial.

This conventional stereotype established itself in the 1980’s, at a time when videogames were new and viewed as a niche activity with gamers represented in film and TV as archetypal ‘nerd’: dressed in dark clothing; listening to heavy rock; invariably presented as sexually unattractive; a narrative function of offering comedy.

Videogames, over the past 20 years, have since become a much more accepted leisure pursuit, and one with a greater mainstream appeal. However, frequent mass media repetition of the trope of gamers has meant that the ‘nerd’ stereotype remains deeply ingrained.

Pokémon Go can be seen to challenge this stereotype in making the fundamental mechanics of the game involve leaving the house to track down different locations. However, we should be clear that the selling of locations to large conglomerates such as McDonalds and Starbucks may make this appear less one of Nintendo being responsible and more a matter of making money from further exploitation of gamers.

Pokémon Go fulfils many of the perceived uses and gratifications of its audience.

A prime gratification offered by Pokémon Go is that of social interaction. Ever since the home console explosion of the late 1980’s, the playing of videogames has slowly moved from the communal world of Gaming Arcades and Mall to the home, and has become what is today often a solitary pursuit.

The old static location of large machines in arcades and malls meant enforced social contact, often with gamers competing head to head. Today, modern multi-player gaming is conducted over online networks with minimal ‘real’ contact.

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