摘要:行走在校园中我们随处可以看到这样的人。他们三三两两一起缓慢地走着,四处寻找着什么。每隔几秒钟便会停下脚步看看自己的手机,然后继续向前走。行走,检查,行走,检查。或许是因为夏天夜晚舒适的天气让他们更乐意出门去,而我也开始好奇如果是在几个月后的湿冷冬夜他们还会这么做吗。

作者:Josh Marinacci

行走在校园中我们随处可以看到这样的人。他们三三两两一起缓慢地走着,四处寻找着什么。每隔几秒钟便会停下脚步看看自己的手机,然后继续向前走。行走,检查,行走,检查。或许是因为夏天夜晚舒适的天气让他们更乐意出门去,而我也开始好奇如果是在几个月后的湿冷冬夜他们还会这么做吗。当然了或许这款游戏到那时就不再这么受欢迎了。毕竟在不久前它还什么都不是。

两个人停在我们旁边的一辆载货卡车前。“嘿,你们是否看到大只的Kakuna?!”我的一个同伴回答:“看到了,在那边,”她指向某处。“谢谢”。于是我们便开始思索:为什么这款游戏是在现在火起来的?人们已经尝试着去创造这样的作品好多年但却从未取得真的成功。而为什么是现在呢?我的朋友回答道:“答案便是:Pokemon”。

为什么《Pokemon Go》选择现在出现?-触手游戏

作为一个已经40岁的人,我玩《Pokemon》可能已经太老了。当最早的Gamboy游戏问世时我刚完成自己的大学学业。那是面向孩子们的《最终幻想》。我认为它是一款孩子们的游戏,并且之后又出现了一些大热的面向孩子们的纸牌游戏,电影,电视节目等等。我并没有错,这的确是一款孩子们的游戏,拥有精致的设计和有效的市场营销。Pokédex能满足孩子们喜欢收集东西并寻求全新内容的愿望。捕抓Pokemon能够激励玩家去学习一些新单词并可能提高他们的阅读技能。所以这的确是一款适合孩子们的游戏。但为什么是现在呢?

捕鲸者

Pokemon Go》非常简单。与现在的大多数手机游戏一样它的目的便是帮助玩家消耗时间和金钱。玩家可以在游戏中购买道具并升级。所以我认为这其实和老虎机差不多。大多数玩家在玩了一阵子游戏后便会感到无聊(就像我在玩《FarmVille》和《Candy Crush》那样),但是一部分玩家却会在此花钱购买虚拟道具。在产业中这类型玩家被称为鲸鱼玩家,一些大型游戏便致力于捕抓这类型玩家。像Zynga和King便从中获取了巨大的利益。所以我认为真正的博彩元素要进入游戏中只是时间的问题了。

但是《Pokemon Go》似乎又和典型的捕鲸类老虎机游戏不同。尽管它们拥有相似的游戏机制,但这款游戏也还有其它内容。我不认为玩家只要通过花钱就能够获胜,但游戏中的某些内部玩家交易可能改变某些情况。我对其中的lure机制更感兴趣。有些玩家会发现自己身处Pokestops附近能够花钱去购买lures将其他玩家带到自己这里。他们会在自己的Facebook页面发布这样的内容:一起来抓Pokemon并一起喝杯饮料吧。并且比起《Candy Crush》,这款游戏所拥有的现实世界元素也让它显得更加有趣。人们可以预见那些他们本来不会遇到的人,并且可以前往那些他们本来不会前往的场所。这便是非常强大的推动力量。

改变很困难

我的三个朋友是从波兰来的,他们想来这所大学寻找Pokestop。他们都是年轻人并且从小便玩过这款游戏,不过在之前他们从未想过游戏会以这样的方式出现。我们发现这款游戏的威力是能让许多人走出家门。我的朋友便表示身边有很多人因此改变了自己的日常习惯。他们会为晨跑和上班选择不同路线。并且比起待在公司他们会选择外出吃饭。而多亏了每天的运动以及阳光的滋润他们变得更有活力了。那么Pokemon是否能够成为推动全民运动的一种方式?

其实我们很难去理解人们必须改变自己的日常生活习惯的重要性。事实上大规模地去改变人的行为是非常困难的一件事。我想学监和赌博行业应该愿为获得这一能力而投入巨额资金吧。我们便开玩笑如果这一能力是以错误方式表现出来会怎样。即有可能引诱一群小孩到达某一个特定场所,或将人们带到一条阴暗小巷而不是主街道上。这就像Stephen King的恐怖小说中会写的内容:利用虚拟小猫将小孩带向死亡。再或者外国政府可能利用这一能力去整顿交通。

但再一次地我还是想问:“为什么是现在?”这款游戏是围绕着开发者从之前的游戏《Ingress》所获得的数据进行创造的,但是那款游戏却远不及《Pokemon Go》受欢迎。所以Nitanic其实并未期待着这款游戏会如此大火。在开发过程中有一半时间这款应用都不能有效运行并且经常坍塌且不能连接到服务器。根据报告该公司一直在努力强化后端。而虽然面对着种种的问题它最终还是掀起了巨大的热潮。

永远不要小看集体意识

如果说我从20年的上网经历中学到了什么,那便是永远不能小看集体意识。人类的大脑已经清楚如何去面对各种漏洞了,所以他们不会因此觉得无趣。就像玩家都可以从网络上获取许多有关如何克服小故障,漏洞以及《Pokemon Go》中的冻结等等问题的指导。

而关于这款游戏错失良机的一方面便是缺少品牌商品。就像任何一款大型游戏或暑期大片的发行/发布都伴随着相关的T恤,帽子和人形公仔的推出。但是我们却找不到任何与《Pokemon Go》相关的产品。而再一次地,网上开始有人自行制作了3D印刷产品,Etsy T恤。果然生活总是能让个人找到其它出路。

晚上的时候我们谈论了各种话题同时也绕着一些建筑行走并从Blue Team手上接管了体育场。而一旦玩家与玩家间的交易出现,这是否会成为一种带有缺陷的虚拟交易?我们是否将看到掘金者,道具小偷或现实世界中的虚拟抢劫?

因为这些游戏是依赖于群聚效应,所以到底有多少游戏可以共存?根据网络效应我们发现只有两款真正强大的游戏才能共存。那《Pokemon Go》是否会变成一时流行的某种狂热效应?是否会像我们在手机游戏领域看到的那样排行榜前列的位置会突然就发生改变,或者它将像《魔兽世界》那样拥有真正忠心的用户群组会坚持玩好几十年的游戏并不断完善自己的角色。也许在经历短暂的夏日户外乐趣后所有的孩子们会再一次回到阴暗的房间里。但是不管会发生什么,这都是值得我们去期待并关注的。

Geek文化

所以到底为什么是现在呢?该公司已经努力去创造基于定位的游戏好多年了。那为什么是现在呢?我们的最佳猜测便是2016年的夏天是最适合技术和文化风暴肆虐的夏天。在《Ingress》发行时还很少人拥有高端智能手机。并且那时候的手机的电池寿命和GPS功能也不如现在强大。同时很少有孩子拥有自己的智能手机。而现在,智能手机之战已经到达了顶峰,即几乎所有人都拥有一台智能手机,并且每台智能手机也都非常强大能够运行这样的游戏。如今的技术已经非常发达了。当然还有另外一个元素,那便是geek文化。

我看过一些小孩在谈论自己因为角色提高了分数。当我还年轻的时候我也因此去玩过《龙与地下城》。而现在这俨然已经成为了流行文化的一部分。就像《我的世界》便被用于教育项目中。Cosplay角色扮演也成为了人们积极讨论的内容。迪士尼不还在创建一个Star Wars Land!我们可以看到现在Geek已经变成了一个非常酷的风潮了。

不过回首过去这似乎是一种再显然不过的事:将Pokemon的怀旧感,技术和收集机制持久的吸引力结合在一起,这的确为定位游戏的诞生创造了天时地利与人和。我必须承认Pokemon真的很可爱。虽然现在的我比起收集宠物对销毁糖果更感兴趣。而现在我的孩子正沉迷于Hot Wheels和Hex-a-bugs,我想不久后他便会陷进Pokemon的魅力中了吧。

本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,拒绝任何不保留版权的转发,如需转载请联系:游戏邦

Pokémon Go: Why Now?

by Josh Marinacci

Wandering through campus we saw them everywhere. In small groups of two or three they walked slowly. Looking around. Pausing every few seconds to check their phones, then moving on a few more steps. Walk, check, walk, check. The mild summer weather and warm evening brought them out in larger numbers, so I wondered how many would come out to play in the rainy winter six months from now. Of course, it might not even still be a thing then. After all, it wasn’t a thing two weeks ago.

Two guys stopped in a pickup truck next to us. “Hey, did you guys see that big Kakuna?!”. “Yes”, one of my companions replied. “Over that way”, she said, pointing to the quad. “Thanks”. We speculated: why now? People have been trying to make this work for years but never got critical mass. Why now? My friend replied, “One word: Pokémon”.

Being forty I’m too old to have played Pokémon. I was finishing my finals in college when the original Gameboy game came out. At the time I thought: Oh cute. It’s Final Fantasy for kids. I dismissed it as a kids’ game, and later a kids card game, movie, tv show, and everything else that happens to hot intellectual property. And I was right. It was a kids’ game, if well made and marketed. The Pokédex played on kids desire to collect things and always have new stuff. (as the now parent of a five year old, I understand this well). I know several people who said they learned to read from Pokémon. Catching ‘em all was their incentive to learn new words and go through the repetition required for good reading skills. So.. fine. It’s a game for kids. But why now?

The Whale Hunters

Pokémon Go is pretty simple. Like most mobile games now it’s purpose built to get you to waste time and eventually dollars. You can buy items and upgrades. I think of them as little more than slot machines, psychologically designed to get you to tap a virtual lever for your virtual treat pellet. Most players get bored after a while (as I did with both FarmVille and Candy Crush), but some tiny percentage will spend real cash on virtual items. In the industry they call these people whales, as in the big game they are hunting with harpoons. Zynga and King have ridden this wave to billions of dollars of valuation (and subsequent crashes). I expect it’s only a matter of time before real casinos get in on the game.

Pokémon Go, however, just feels different than the typical whale hunter slot machine games. While it has similar mechanics, it’s still something else. I don’t think you can actually pay to win, but there’s talk of inter-player trade that should shake things up. I’m more interested in the lures. Some businesses who happened to find themselves near Pokéstops have purchased lures, with real dollars, to bring people to their establishments. Posting on their Facebook pages: Come catch’em all, and have a drink too. (How long until stores start to do actual in-game location based advertising?) The real world component of the game clearly make it far more interesting than the Candy Crushes of the world. People are walking around meeting people they wouldn’t otherwise meet, visiting locations they wouldn’t otherwise visit. That’s a very powerful thing.

Change is Hard

As we started walking back to the car this was our topic of conversation. All three of my friends had come down from Portland to visit the Pokéstops here at the university. They are all younger and had played the games as kids but hadn’t really thought about it until a week ago. We noticed the power of the game. Here is something simple that has gotten lots of people to go outside. My friends know people who have changed their daily habits. They use different routes for morning runs and commutes. They walk outside for their lunch instead of staying in the break room. One of them has personally felt more positive and energized thanks to the extra walking and sunshine. Could Pokémon be the way to change national health?

It’s hard to understand the importance of the fact that people have actually changed their daily habits. Changing behavior on a large scale is really, really hard. Proctor and Gamble would pay billions for this power. We jokingly discussed what would happen if this power fell into the wrong hands. Luring hordes of kids to a particular location? Getting people to walk through a back alley instead of the main street? There’s a Stephen King horror novel waiting to be written: a murderous clown lures children to their death with virtual kittens. Or a foreign government takes control and uses it to shape traffic to around their surveillance cameras. Clearly there’s a dystopian novel waiting to be written as well.

But still, “why now?” I asked. The game is built around data assembled for their previous effort Ingress, which at its height never had a fraction of popularity of Pokémon Go. Nitanic, the company who built the game, clearly didn’t anticipate the popularity. The app barely works, crashes constantly, and can’t connect to the server half the time. Reports are that the company is desperately trying to scale up the backend. (Hey guys, come talk to us about our globally replicated Data Stream Network). Despite the troubles it’s a smash hit. And the hive mind is already at working around the bugs.

Never Bet Against the Hive Mind

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from twenty years of internetting, it’s that you never bet against the hive mind. The collective brain of humanity has already identified how to work around the many bugs so that the fun never ends. How to Overcome Glitches, Bugs, and Freezes in Pokemon Go, is but one of many guides assembled from the Internet’s collective intelligence.

Another glaring missed opportunity is the lack of branded merchandise. No big game or summer blockbuster would launch without matching t-shirts, hats, and action figures. Yet there is no Pokémon Go swag to be found. Once again the internet has taken it upon itself to serve up 3d printed items, Etsy Tshirts, and reports of Target employees setting up their own Pokémon related end-caps due to the lack of official merchandising. Life will find a way.

Throughout the evening we touch on many topics while circling around buildings and taking over gyms for the Blue Team (Mystics?). Once person to person trading happens will it become a virtual currency with all the downsides? Will we have gold farmers? Item theft? Realworld virtual muggings?

Given that these games depend on critical mass, how many of of them can exist at once? Network effects suggest only two strong games, with the occasional also ran in third place. But will Pokémon Go be a fad or sustainable? Will the leader spot swap constantly as is common in mobile gaming, or will it follow The World of Warcraft model with a dedicated fanbase that continues to play after a decade, always improving their characters. Will people even care about AR geolocation games in 6 months once the Christmas of VR hits? Perhaps all those kids will rush back inside to the screen-lit darkness after a brief summer of outdoor fun. Whatever happens, it will certainly be fun to watch.

The Geekification of Culture

So why now? Companies have tried to make location based gaming ‘happen’ for over a decade. Why now? Our best guess is that summer 2016 is the perfect storm of technology and culture. When Ingress launched fewer people had high end smartphones with large data plans. Battery life with constant GPS was poor. And certainly fewer kids had smart phones. Now that the smartphone wars have reached a stalemate pretty much everyone can have one; and every smartphone is good enough to run these games. (Why do we still call them smartphones anyway? They’re just phones now). The technology is clearly more accessible. There seems to be another factor though: the geekification of culture.

I see children talk about getting +5 improvements for their characters. When I was young this branded you as an outcast playing D&D in the basement. Now it’s a part of pop culture. The biggest movies are based on sci-fi and superheros. Kids are learning to program at a mass scale. Minecraft is used in educational programs. Cos-play is a thing that’s talked about positively. Hell, Disney is building a Star Wars Land! Somehow it happened: Geek is cool now.

In retrospect it should have been obvious: combined with the nostalgia of Pokémon, the tech pieces falling together, and the enduring popularity of collecting things; it really was the perfect vehicle to make location games happen. And I must admit the Pokémon are cute. I’m far more interested in collecting a charmander than power-ups for the crushing of candy. My kid is all about Hot Wheels and Hex-a-bugs right now, but I suspect Pokémon is not far behind.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some catching to do.(source:Gamasutra)