Geothink&Learn 1: Pokémon Go

Image result for pokemon go

Image courtesy of @PokemonGoApp

Over the course of our research grant, we have studied how technology shapes and changes the ways individuals, community groups, government and the private sector work together. One particular technological development, an augmented reality game developed by Niantic for iOS, emerged over the summer of 2016. Pokémon Go raised many questions for our co-applicants, partners and collaborators, and the community at large.

On Wednesday, October 4th at 9:30 (EST), hosted its first monthly Geothink&Learn video conference session on the topic of Pokémon Go and augmented reality technology. It highlighted Geothink’s unique interdisciplinary perspective and included a myriad of ideas from our faculty and students. Catch a recording of this session below.

The convener was Geothink Co-Applicant Pamela Robinson, associate professor in Ryerson University’s School of Urban and Regional Planning and the associate dean for Graduate Studies and Strategic Services. Speakers included Geothink Head Renee Sieber, associate professor in McGill University’s Department of Geography and School of Environment; Tenille Brown, adjunct professor and doctoral candidate in the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law; Nick Seaver, assistant professor in Tufts University’s Department of Anthropology; and Adriana de Souza e Silva, associate professor at the Department of Communication at North Carolina State University.

Attendees joined us for a question and answer session after presentations concluded. Our five panelists briefly introduced their research and then reflected on the future of artificial intelligence and its applications—particularly in the context of the work of our partners.

Download a PDF of this event to share.

Wednesday October 4, 2017 9:30 – 10:30am [NOW CONCLUDED]

Register in Advance for this Webinar Here:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Pamela Robinson

Drew Bush


Adriana de Souza e Silva: While Pokémon Go seemed like a brand new phenomenon, there is a long history of hybrid reality games that predates it. The popularity of this game, however, helped signal what new and existing social and spatial issues arise when such games become mainstream (mobility, sociability, spatiality and surveillance).


Tenille Brown: By playing a game like Pokémon Go, legal scholars learned about new challenges arising from the boundaries between public/private space.



Pamela Robinson (on behalf of her students): Pokémon Go, as a largely urban game, helped planners learn more about how people use public spaces and how augmented reality tools may be useful in municipal public consultation and civic engagement efforts.



Renee Sieber: The majority of people who play(ed) Pokémon Go did it for fun. But there are some serious considerations too. These include asking how the game reflects real world bias and what kinds of behaviours the algorithm in the game promotes and/or dissuades.



Nick Seaver: Pokémon Go is a game about capture. But pokémon aren’t the only things being caught—while players catch creatures, the game catches their attention, time, and data. By drawing on the anthropology of trapping, we can recognize what apparently high-tech games like Pokémon Go have in common with apparently simple artifacts like mouse traps and hunting nets.


We are excited to begin our monthly video conferencing sessions and hope to see you all there!