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Available Expert - Pokemon Go, augmented reality and making games safer

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Queen's University computing expert Nicholas Graham is available to comment on the world of augmented reality gaming and ways to make the experience safer for players.

Around the world, players have been captivated by Nintendo's latest offering, Pokemon Go. The game requires players to venture out into the real world to capture and collect the eponymous virtual creatures. There have also been countless reports of players being injured or finding themselves in dangerous predicaments in their quest, with police and other agencies forced to issue reminders to players to be mindful of their surroundings.

"Pokemon Go has done a wonderful job of showing how physical activity can be incorporated into a game, and has had one of the biggest launches in gaming history," says Dr. Graham. "The only dark shadow over the game’s success has been reports of people getting hurt while playing due to walking into traffic or walking over a cliff, or of people driving while playing the game."

Dr. Graham was part of a team that developed an early augmented reality game, titled Growl Patrol, which he suggests demonstrates how to create a safe augmented reality gaming experience. In the game, players catch virtual animals by chasing them around their real-world surroundings. However, the game used sound, not visual input, to create the reality augmentation. Players would hear animals through their headphones and, using sound, be able to tell which direction the animal is located and how far away it is. Using sound rather than visual input could alleviate some of the danger players have experienced with Pokemon Go.

"Players of Growl Patrol found that playing with sound was more immersive than when looking at a map on a screen, and because their heads were up looking at the world around them, they were able to play without accidents," explains Dr. Graham.

Dr. Graham is a professor of computing at Queen's University. His research focuses on the technology underlying the design and development of the next generation of digital games, including computer-aided exercise, game networking and simulation gaming technology. He is available for interviews before 1 pm or after 3:30 pm EDT on Thursday, July 21.

To arrange an interview, please contact communications officer Chris Armes (613-533-6000 ext. 77513 or chris.armes@queensu.ca) at Queen’s University News and Media Services Department in Kingston, Ont., Canada.

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Attention broadcasters: Queen’s has facilities to provide broadcast quality audio and video feeds. For television interviews, we can provide a live, real-time double ender from Kingston with HD-SDI. Please call for details.

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