Augmented Reality as Rhetoric and Composition

The phrase “reliving your childhood” is starting to become a more realistic phenomenon. Those who grew up watching Pokemon and playing Pokemon cards with friends in their childhood garages have experienced this on a surreal level with the recently released augmented reality game, Pokemon GO. As a child we could only dream of Pokemon actually becoming real and being able to interact with them. Released by Niantic Labs on July 6, 2016 and being available on most platforms, Pokémon GO resurrected the Pokémon franchise by creating a super interactive game. With technology evolving the way we do things, Ian Bogost made the following realization about rhetorically using that technology,

“… Digital rhetoricians likewise focus on the use of digital computers to carry out culturally modified versions of existing oral and written discourse; letters become emails, conversations become instant message sessions.”

Or in this case, playing Pokemon cards becomes our childhood dream through augmented reality.

In the beginning steps of the game, you are allowed to create a virtual player. Users will typically create a player that they can “identify” with. The user can choose hair color, eye color, skin color, and the style of the character that will help the user feel as if it is actually them.

In this way the game can persuade users to step out of reality and into the game itself.

Pokemon GO uses GPS and camera applications from the device in order to persuade the user to follow the procedure of the game. Niantic became extremely creative by using unique tools, such as the GPS, for an accurate and realistic feel that users are seeking more of with the climb of virtual reality. John Tinnell observed the following regarding GPS technologies,

“Before smartphones and tablets reached a mass market, many of us only engaged GPS and other location-based systems as a means to help us navigate from place to place. In the context of this popular usage, the GPS was hardly considered a writing technology, as common transportation applications generate text only at the level of addresses and directions. A Google search for “GPS” suggests our societal inability to see the forest from the trees…”

As you can see in the images above, you can also observe what Tinnell is trying to point out. This GPS set up gives the user more of a gamer feel versus what is actually there. With this view of the interface, the user’s minds are taken out of reality as their own feet are walking through it. The requirement to walk and explore your current location in order to discover Pokemon is a key use of procedural rhetoric in which Niantic uses to their advantange.

John Tinnell
Ian Bogost

For more insights on augmented reality, check out the following blogs:
Jessica Benson
Cody Boyer


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