Can the Pokémon Go London beat the Real London? - A digital Battle of Trafalgar
October 28, 2016
Roses are Red, Violets are Blue
If you were a Pokemon,
Would I really miss you?
Until Pokémon Go was launched the answer of course would have been NO – because Pokémon was not part of our ‘physical’ or 'real life' world.
With Pokémon Go and GPS we now have the opportunity to experience augmented reality and capture versions of these creatures in the physical world. Getting points and moving up levels means I could choose to hunt them down and compete for supremacy at all my local London Pokémon gyms.
Or, I could heed the advice of the poet William Henry Davis who said:
‘A poor life this, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.’
Is the real London experience being threatened by Pokémon Go? What about if I did just ‘stop and stare’ at the London that is physically around me? How much could I learn from doing that? What facts and insights would I absorb and enjoy?
The best way to find out is to put it to the test - in London itself.
The Test Site
I chose the actual centre of London as the test venue - which is on King Charles Island just to the south of Trafalgar Square - and followed the route shown below.
This area is one of the most popular tourist routes in London, leading from Charing Cross to the Houses of Parliament. It is also now rich in terms of Pokémon sites, and gyms. my test aims to determine how it compares to a conventional stroll around London's key tourist attractions.
The Image Comparison
The route was repeated twice, once with Pokémon Go, and a second time with no digital devices except a camera.
I created a video based on images collected from key locations along the route, to provide a 'side by side' comparison of the photographic views with those of Pokémon Go’s ‘digital’ views, (screen shots) - both from the same location.
See the video on YouTube: (https://youtu.be/pWvz_2U289I)
The Pokémon Go Experience
Despite the lack of detail on Pokémon Go's map view, my eyes quickly became accustomed to its layout and icons, and I was able to navigate my way around this part of London relatively easily. Pokémon Go does not tell you where to go, the user decides. For the test, I walked a 'pre-planned route' that enabled me to follow the route and get to level 4 with no exceptional effort, whilst capturing a number of odd-looking Pokémons along the way.
The Pokémon Go experience is very enjoyable. Whilst it's clearly not an alternative to a city tour, either factually or visually, there are hundreds of sites to collect in the heart of a London. That means chasing Pokémons to build up your points can take you places you would otherwise miss out on seeing.
The Real London Experience
This part of the test involved walking along the same route without any electronic devices apart from a camera. As the video shows, many of the real life sites are stunning.
To adapt a quote from Harper Adams’s ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird ‘, the objective was to:-
“ Get under the skin of London by walking a mile in its shoes and seeing its sites through London's own eyes”
As a native Londoner I already have a reasonable understanding of its history, architecture, politics, and culture, enabling me to really enjoy just looking around the tour route on an early Sunday morning without the crowds.
But if I had never been to London before, or knew little about the place, it would not have been a very engaging experience, because I would likely have known little about what I was gazing at. I would probably have been more concerned about not getting lost than seeing and understanding about the sights. Doing a simply visual tour with no preparation is a bit like reading a magazine in a foreign language - lots of eye-catching sights but little context and understanding.
Verdict: A tour with no up-front research or explanatory guide is not enough to deliver the 'real' London experience.
Winners and Losers
So who loses the Digital Battle of Trafalgar, when both players have no prior knowledge of the area? London itself, because it is unable to engage more meaningfully with its visitors and their digital devices.
In this digital age there's a real need for London - and all big cities - to find new ways to present factual, visual, amusing, historical and cultural information in an engaging and interactive way - and all at the tourists' digital finger tips!
Find Out More
www.londonphotoroutes.co.uk has been created to explore new ways to show London visually and to Educate, Entertain, Engage, Entice and Elevate its visitors so they too can enjoy exploring this great city of ours. Its is also a personal experiment to see how the old, (me), can embrace the new, (social), and how the new, (visitors), can embrace the old (London).
Help spread the word by sharing this post and prove that the individual can still be heard in the digital world - whatever their age.
To learn more about this area, check out the trailer video:
London Views in (Digital) Tour Guide Shoes is a e visually interactive Digital Book. The tour route extends from Charing Cross in Central Westminster to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. Acting rather like the 'Babel fish' in the Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy, the book is a knowledgeable digital companion. It takes the London visitor beyond a purely visual experience, by adding historical, political, architectural and cultural dimensions. Appealing to both digital beginners and natives alike, it is downloadable from www.londonphotoroutes.co.uk and from the iBook Store.