Pokémon GO (almost) takes over the world

Sofia ZuccalàTechLeave a Comment

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The videogame of the year is undoubtedly Pokémon GO.

Nintendo’s latest release, developed by Niantic, takes videogaming into a totally new realm. Thanks to the mobile app, players can now chase and capture Pokémons in the real world, using the smartphone video camera.

Pokémon GO as seen through augmented reality


Anyone who played to the Pokémon video games as a child dreamed, at least once, to meet one of them in the real world. Pokémon GO has made this dream possible: players can now capture the “Pocket Monster” by exploring the real world through an additional digital video layer that activates the game dynamic.  A prime example of augmented reality.

Playing PokemonGO is relatively easy: after customizing your avatar, activate the video app and just wonder around your neighborhood search and capture Pokémons. You should also look for PokeStops, point of interests where you can collect Pokeballs, you will need them to  catch Pokémon, and so on.

In the first week of release in the United States, 65 million players downloaded the PokemonGO app on their phones. On July 8, according to Statista, North American users spent on average 43 minutes a day Pokémon hunting. More than on WhatsApp (30 minutes) and Instagram (25 minutes).

However, despite the enormous success, Nintendo did not think about a substantial slice of potential players: visually impaired users.

PokemonGO is simply not accessible to users with visual impairments. Many visually impaired Pokemon fans have already contacted Nintendo to request a version of the game that is usable by those who cannot see. Currently, the game is not compatible with smartphone screen readers, which usually identify and read text on the screen. The game interface, in fact, lacks texts that a screen reader might present with speech synthesis.

According to Aaron Preece, national technology associate at the American Foundation for the Blind, Nintendo should add some visual cues to make the app accessible. Aaron also suggests to add the address and GPS coordinates of PokeStops and gyms (where you train your pokémon) on the game map. In this way, even those who do not see, once they have got the address, could reach the points of interest.

Even catching a pokémon is not very easy for a visually impaired person. In fact, to catch it, you need to throw the pokeball with a fairly accurate movement on the screen. According to Aaron, it would be enough to have voice instructions to guide the blind to throw the pokeball in the correct direction.

Lee Huffman, editor and AccessWorld manager – an AFB magazine on technology and accessibility – supports ​​Preece’s idea: “The American Foundation for the Blind would be happy to help the Pokémon GO team, to support their designers in making the game more accessible,” – said Huffman – “Probably Nintendo did not think about the fact that, in the United States alone, there are over 20 million people with low vision and who have difficulties reading. We could use our experience to make the application accessible”.

Accessibility experts explain that only by using and working on technologies every day, it is possible to understand and learn the nuances of an actual accessibility. To make an app or software used by its users, must be both accessible and usable at the same time.

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Sofia Zuccalà
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Sofia Zuccalà

I'm a 23 years old MSc student in Communication of Science and Sustainable Innovation and I am a communication lover. I have a BSc in Communication, Innovation and Multimedia and at the moment I'm writing for several blogs about technology, science and current news.
Sofia Zuccalà
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