Pokémon Go Augmented Reality Caught Us All: Here’s Why You Should Get Catching

Contributors: Maga Design Team Members
Graphic designed by: Afsaneh@magadesign.com

pokemon_go-v5The most talked-about, downloaded, acclaimed, and debated hit of the summer isn’t the latest Kardashian drama, but rather a mobile game reminiscent of years gone by, Pokémon GO. Due to the element of nostalgia, opportunity for exploration, and user connectivity, this app has created an explosive user base of fans (and skeptics) that will likely change the way we think about the future of gaming.

With the average gamer searching for Pokémon companions for roughly 45 minutes a day, the questions must be asked, “Why?” and “Who?”.  While the “why” is the most heavily debated part of this game, the “who” is actually the most interesting part of this 2016 application phenomenon.

Typically when a game (or similar artifact of mobile society) is released to the public, its adoption follows the typical life cycle bell-curve that we studied in our business and marketing classes. Innovators first, early adopters second, and the combo of early majority and late majority filling up the middle and end of the curve.

What this game did is make Augmented Reality technology, or AR, (which is still relatively “new” in terms of its mass consumption) easily digestible (i.e, fun and easy to use) for the larger percentage of the population. It did this by tapping into the ways we most commonly use our devices – GPS and our cameras, combined with a multigenerational franchise. Pokémon Go didn’t follow the typical curve, it seemed to explode all at once with all types of users adopting.

To note, Pokémon Go isn’t the first geocaching mobile game, nor is it possibly the best. Niantic, the developers of Pokémon Go, previously made another app known as Ingress. Not surprisingly, the gameplay for both apps are very similar, to the extent where much of the real-world data from Ingress has gotten pulled into Pokémon Go. In fact, Ingress could arguably be superior to Pokémon Go in terms of usability. In our opinion, Pokémon Go has considerable server issues and is rather limited in terms of what players can do. Much of this could be underpreparedness for the bandwidth needed for its release. Ingress also has been around for about three years and has undergone substantial gameplay tailoring.

Understanding “who”, we have to toss a nod to the favorite Pokémon cartoon characters like Pikachu. Now that the Pokémon franchise is roughly 20 years old, we find the average age of players are in their mid twenties to early thirties. These are the users who remember Pokémon from its early days when the first games were released for Nintendo’s Game Boy, and a card game and children’s show followed shortly after. We have an inherent desire to experience parts of our youth again, in just more relevant ways.

Of course there are younger and older people playing this game too, which takes us back to the massive impact this game has had on the user adoption process of gamification. If it was any other character-based game released (instead of using characters from a popular franchise), would the impact have been the same? Maybe. But, for now, only time will tell as the stage has been set for mass adoption of mobile AR gaming all in part to a little yellow-orangish creature.

But is the impact of Pokémon Go something that many are misinterpreting?

Some may give it a negative spin like it’s another distraction, but the core meaning of what this app has is truly something special. It’s creating an experience for people to go outside and play a truly social game, not social in the sense of over the internet (like Xbox Live and other services) or physically near each other. The placement of Pokémon in the real world has increased traffic to landmarks and cultural locations – resulting in positive and negative results.

The app tears AR away from its seemingly limited application to gaming and artificial intelligence, broadening it to entertainment, fitness, and possibly a lot more. Pokémon Go feels comparable to arcades of the past, only this time the arcade is everywhere. No doubt,  businesses will figure out how they can profit from leveraging in-game advertising and purchases to entice ‘trainers’ to their business.

While many naysayers are torn on the “why” people are out looking for Pokémon instead of, say, picking up litter, there’s something to be said about a game that unifies and bonds complete strangers across cultures and age brackets in public spaces. The Pokémon journey is a new frontier in convergence and is the start of bigger and better AR experiences to come.

Why Learning Centric Instruction is the Future of Training

By: Jordan Orzolek

Very few announcements induce a sense of irritation in employees more than that of mandatory training. Who can blame them? This means that they will soon be subjected to hours of lecturing by a speaker who repeats things already known, ventures into irrelevant topics, or drones on while the learners are watching the clock, eager to leave. This seems inevitable but truthfully, it isn’t. Through a system I refer to as Learner Centric Instruction (LCI), I believe that this common behavior can be averted and replaced with a more palatable experience.

In this system, e-learning (computer-based instruction) takes precedence over traditional instructor-led learning experiences. The focus on e-learning allows for the learning experience to be controlled and delivered uniformly, thus eliminating the variance that instructor-led training is often subject to (though it is not to say that instructor led training would be eliminated entirely – it simply would be used for circumstances that specifically require it). In LCI, the learning is broken up into convenient micro-modules that cover specific content, and is paced appropriately for the target audience. These micro-modules would be short (5-10 minutes) with more complex subjects broken up into multiple modules. This may seem like too little time for a topic to be appropriately covered, but it is necessary given that the average human attention span is a mere 8 seconds. The allotted time for the micro-modules allows them to be taken at the learner’s convenience.

How does LCI become a fun experience? It comes down to the way in which the content is presented. Humans have a natural affinity for stories (especially well-written ones). Through engaging stories and scenarios, the learner can envision the content in context. The media of LCI is fast-paced and engaging, with content presented in a manner that allows the learner to have a multi-sensory experience. The screen is not over crowded with massive blocks of text; instead, voiceovers narrate the content in a casual, engaging manner. In compliance with 508 requirements, a complete transcript of the narration is also available to the learners.

What about the experience surrounding LCI? In order for LCI to be effective, it must be easily accessible. If the learning experiences are not easily accessible, the learner’s interest will be lost before they even reach the content. This requires the use of a quality Learning Management System (LMS) as a convenient portal for learners to access the content in a single location. The completion of a micro-module would be automatically logged into the LMS and viewable to administrators.

LCI presents a “win-win” situation: employers can train their employees in an effective manner and reach company goals, and employees can receive training in subjects areas of interest to them and find it exciting and engaging in the process.

Uncovering the Mystery of Blockchain in 2 Minutes

By: Trevor Brown, Senior Project Manager

blockchain

So Blockchain…what is it? Let’s start with what it isn’t. The term is tossed around quite a bit, as it relates to Bitcoin, on sites such as The Silk Road. Blockchain, at least in some circles, seems to be synonymous with nefarious activities and shady online personas,  but that shouldn’t be the case. Blockchain technology, in all of its forms, has many reasonable and perfectly legitimate business, government, academic, and social applications. So while Bitcoin certainly uses Blockchain technology, that particular cryptocurrency is a very small example of the overall power of Blockchain.  

Now, what IS Blockchain? Most of the time, people are talking about distributed ledgers, i.e. a list of transactions that is shared among a number of computers, rather than being stored on a central server. A decent working definition is “a distributed database that maintains a continuously-growing list of data records hardened against tampering and revision,” according to The Economist.     

Confused yet? Yeah, the concept, and the underlying technology, can each be a bit obtuse. Let’s use an example to illustrate:

I think one of the best commercial applications would be an aggregated rewards program, maintained in a closed Blockchain system by a series of horizontal industries that do not compete in a direct manner, but rather share many clients across a spectrum. The rewards, we’ll call them “MagaPoints” for simplicity, would be used to buy services at all participants. Picture a car rental company, a national coffee chain, an airline, and a hotel chain.  

One customer will likely use this collection of services during a single trip, whether for business or leisure. So within the confines of the closed network, a client could use their rewards points from a coffee purchase to upgrade a flight or use the rewards points from a car rental to acquire a hotel room.   

The client has ease of transaction, without having to juggle multiple rewards programs, while having peace of mind, knowing that at no time was their personal information utilized. Therefore, saving them from exposure to identify theft or fraud. The entire transaction, and all of its parts, are stored in an open public forum, allowing for a seamless transaction that was 100% transparent.

The storage functionality of Blockchain is literally without limit. It could store your car title, the information on postal packages, or your bank records – just to mention a few uses. Because the technology is stored on a decentralized ledger that is accessible to nearly everyone, each of those would be nearly tamper-proof. This is because changes to the ledger are added instantly and are accessible by any user. So where does it go now? The technology has endless possibilities across data storage, monetary transfer, government transparency, and more. I say embrace it and enjoy the ride…

5 Tricks to Create Privacy in an Open Office

Open offices can save money and increase collaboration, but they also increase distractions, noise levels, and the potential for more introverted team members to be overwhelmed by constant social interaction.

When such spaces are well-designed, these drawbacks can be mitigated with clever seating arrangements and a “quiet” office culture that limits conversations to designated meeting spaces. But if you’ve just moved into an open office and feel the need for more privacy, there are a few strategies you can try.

1. Think like a ninja

In an open office, noise and distraction can sneak up on you when you least expect them in the form of chatty coworkers, loud phone conversations, and people walking around or entering or leaving the room. In order to combat these distractions and find space to recharge, it’s crucial to be proactive, taking every opportunity for focused, individual work and recharging.

Elan Morgan, a blogger on the Quiet Revolution site, advocates making space for solitude, even if that means not joining the gang for lunch every day or skipping the daily watercooler or coffee station chit-chat. If constant interruptions are leaving you drained, identify every possible moment of quiet in your day and guard each one like a vitally important meeting.

If possible, find other ways to interact and make yourself available at specific times for collaboration and discussion, but make your own energy and productivity needs a high priority.

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Brilliant or terrifying? Image via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

2. Build a “soft wall”

Building your own cubicle out of books, furniture, or lumber might send the wrong message to your more extroverted colleagues, but “soft” barriers like plants, artwork, or even a coat rack with a big puffy coat can offer some visual peace and quiet, depending on the layout.

As for auditory distractions, noise-cancelling headphones are great, but it may also be necessary to come up with a system to let people know when you’re unavailable. If your company uses a shared calendar, block off certain times as busy and others as available, or set your status to “busy” on company chat systems.

Don’t have either of those? Do as one commenter on Quiet Revolution suggested and make a deal with your colleagues – you’ll block off time for one-on-one meetings or to help them with their work if they’ll return the favor and let you work in peace for a block of time each day.

3. Find a retreat

If your company is moving to an open-plan office to save money, offer to work from home a few days a week. Not only does telecommuting reduce costs, many people find they are considerably more productive without the distractions of an office and the time spent commuting. If you can improve the company’s bottom line while still making time to build connections with colleagues, you’ll have a solid argument.

For the days you are in the office, pay attention to the typical schedule and try to do your most focused work when everyone else is in meetings or at another location. Or consider booking a meeting room for you and any introverted friends where you can complete important work in silence and then return to the camaraderie and banter of the bullpen.

Office 3
Camaraderie… banter… what’s not to love? Image via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

4. Propose a change

If the office layout is reducing your productivity, ask for a few accommodations such as dividers, movable furniture that creates sound and visual barriers, or definitive “quiet hours” where people can focus on individual tasks and then reconvene for collaboration.

Well-designed open office spaces usually include smaller spaces like meeting “pods” where groups can hold private meetings or individuals can find a quiet place to work as well as large, open areas for discussion (or headphone-mediated silence).

If management isn’t willing to modify policy for the entire office, ask if you can at least move to a quieter corner where you’ll have fewer visual distractions. Chat tools like Google Talk, Slack, and Skype can also allow for discussion that doesn’t break concentration in the same way as a tap on the shoulder.

5. Stand up for yourself.

If management won’t consider your (politely worded) requests for fewer distractions (or the evidence that open spaces decrease productivity), consider looking for another position. It’s easier said than done, but good management should empower employees to do their jobs, not hinder them.

If working in an open office and coping with unfriendly management is damaging your health, driving your stress levels through the roof, and making you dread going to work, make it a priority to look for other options. Many people find working in an open office difficult despite its potential benefits.

Bottom line? If you can’t make it work for you, take the ultimate proactive step and find a place that does. You’re not crazy, and you’re not alone!

Featured image via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Beyond Graphic Design: Maga Design on The Tech Life Podcast

It’s better to show than to tell. Most people have had the experience of trying to explain something in words, but couldn’t. “It’s just easier if I show you.”

And that’s true. But how do you show someone something they can’t see? An idea, a vision of where you want to go, something you want to accomplish that has never been done. You’d need some sort of magic.

Listen to the following podcast with CEO and Founder of Maga, Scott Williams and Rachel Link, Director of Client Services, as they chat with Rich Conte of the Tech Life podcast about:

  • The meaning of “Maga” means magician
  • How we support organizations that are facing communication challenges
  • Why businesses today, more than ever, need to clearly communicate with engaging content to an ever-growing variety of people.

This isn’t an easy task. And effective solutions aren’t by accident, they’re by design.

Maga’s in-house team of designers, UX/UI experts, and strategists are a creative powerhouse of innovative solutions, applying the power of visualization to communication methods across the board– maps, point-of-sale kits, interactive displays, apps, whatever the situation calls for.

And people are taking notice, from the U.S Navy and multi-national tech companies to local start-ups and the Lowcountry Food Bank. Check out the conversation right here!