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Pokemon is coming to town

A transport blog talking about computer games? Do not worry, its more of the usual fare and the problem is about to be launched worldwide.Derived from the largely unknown game Ingress, it has been reworked and attached to the juggernaut of Nintendo licenses Pokemon. These games involve participants travelling on foot to real world locations shown on a map on their phone, and when they are close enough to that location they by waiting for some time can interact with some virtual “thing” on the phone, close enough means just meters away. The reward for this endeavour is collecting virtual trinkets.

The problem is that the locations are selected by the games operators, who are detached from the local area in which they are incentivising people to visit and congregate. Selecting say a pinch point in the middle of a busy bicycle route:

Early in the evening 50 players had already formed a dense huddle, and as the evening went on numbers swelled here to more than 100 blocking access through the area. While the “hacking” theme of Ingress kept its appeal very narrow and the appearance of a location was unlikely to draw more than a few people per day, the mass marketing of Pokemon is seeing consistent congestion at their virtual sites. Add to this the distracted players engrossed in their screens wandering between locations and its headed for disaster.


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