The virtual world of 'Pokemon Go' is already reshaping the real one

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Getting to Know Pokémon GO

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

septic field. The Westboro Baptist ChurchGround zero. Why is "Go" sending people to look for in these places?

It all has to do with game developer Niantic's first alternate reality game, Ingress, which launched in 2012. That game also asked people to take their smartphones to real-world locations as part of a fictional global cyberwar.

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"Go" seems to be largely drawing on the location data collected from Ingress players. But the game's nostalgia-fueled explosion in popularity means that data is having a much greater effect on the real world — for better and for worse.

It's pretty easy to find stories of "Go" sending flocks of aspiring trainers to places where they really shouldn't be trying to catch, Niantic already lets people flag bizarre, inappropriate or dangerous hot spots.

But the additional foot traffic has also been a boon to plenty of small businesses and other enterprises. And "convenient to PokéStop" has already started popping up as a selling point on some real estate ads.

The New York Times reports Niantic plans to take full advantage of its ability to flood any location on Earth with a horde of Pokéfans; the company's apparently planning to let businesses pay to become PokeStops.

This video includes images from George Hodanthewellman and Americasroof / CC BY SA 3.0 and clips from IGN. Music provided courtesy of APM Music.