Techs and the City: Pokemon Go and virtual reality

Clint Little_1If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a parental lecture that started with “at the end of the day” which is usually swiftly followed by “the reality is…” you’ll know that there are times when the real world is not enough.

Sometimes an escape is necessary and in July this year the Pokémon Go phenomenon introduced a mainstream audience to the concept of an Enhanced Reality.

With its enticing opportunities for monster catching and the unusual spectacle of seeing pasty faced nerds stumbling out into the daylight searching for invisible creatures it created a collision between the digital and the real world.

Though it offered up the opportunity for fresh air and actual real world interaction it also had the potential to cause social disturbances.

While taking a break from a Pokémonster hunt in a Fremantle cafe it gave some patrons cause for concern when one of my companions lept up from our table and began hurling his Pokéballs at an unseeable beast that was apparently hovering just above my head.

Although this Enhanced Reality has attracted millions of people to download the app the novelty factor has worn off and reality has crashed the Poképarty and user numbers are in a steep decline.

In search of another avenue offering respite from responsibility I sought refuge in the embrace of Virtual Reality. In a scenario reminiscent of a meeting between West Side Story and 8 Mile I found myself in the midst of a Virtual Reality battle.

The opportunity to create some competitive digital art spurred me into thinking I could be a 21st Century Van Gogh. Strapped into my VR goggles and armed with dual hand controls I felt like the love child of Robocop and Stephen Hawking.

The task was simple enough, paint a portrait using pixels instead of paint in five minutes against another player. I had a vision of a rainbow and set forth to recreate it. Sadly the result of my labours was less than spectacular as I failed to master my colour controls so instead of a spectrum of diversity I managed to get a few yellow and brown smudges across the screen with the words “oh fuck it” smeared over it.

With that aborted attempt at facing up to apparent adulthood I was tasked with the responsibility of caring for one of my nieces for an afternoon. As a devoted Guncle I was happy to oblige but as anyone who has ever had to care for a young child will know, the words “I’m finished!”, when hollered by a toddler from the toilet means only one thing…

That there’s nothing like the reality of cleaning up another person’s shit to lead to you to the only logical solution, a game called Chardonnay Go. It might be old fashioned and not terribly tech savvy, but dammit it gets the job done.

Clinton Little

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