Your mom won’t stop nagging you to get out of the house and spend some time outside, but all you want to do is play video games all day. Why shouldn’t both be possible at the same time? Well, with the rise in augmented reality gaming, it looks like the future of video games may take us off the couch and out into the real world.
You’ve probably heard of virtual reality, but augmented reality is a fairly new technology that’s just now coming into prominence. For those of you in the dark, augmented reality is an interactive experience that involves layering computer-generated images and objects over the real world. For example, if you hold your phone up to a sign, and suddenly the sign starts moving on your phone screen and a link for a special deal pops up, that’s augmented reality at work.
Augmented reality technology is now being used for a multitude of different applications. There have been educational programs developed that allow students to learn by using augmented reality to interact with their environment. There are programs that have been developed primarily for advertising purposes, such as IKEA’s “Place a Tree on It” campaign, which involved an app that allowed you to place a virtual Christmas tree in your living room. And, of course, there is augmented reality gaming, which allows gamers to enjoy all the fun of video games while moving around in the real world.
The field of augmented reality gaming is still relatively new, and we can expect some incredible new augmented reality games to come out in the next decade. But, while we wait for those new games to come out, here are the best augmented reality games you should be playing right now:
Created in 2016, Pokemon GO is probably the most widely known augmented reality game out there. The game was developed by the San Francisco-based company Niantic in conjunction with Nintendo and The Pokemon company and is available for iOS and Android. And just because Pokemon GO is the most well-known of the current augmented reality games out there doesn’t mean it’s all hype, Niantic’s ability to continually improve the game makes it so it will be relevant far into the future.
The thing about the Pokemon universe is that it’s extremely expansive and detailed. There are nearly 900 Pokemon out there, many of which have not been added to the game yet, so there will be new updates for Pokemon GO for many years to come.
This game didn’t come without controversy, however. Niantic and Nintendo caught a great deal of backlash due to the fact that many players of the game were driving and searching for Pokemon at the same time. Texting and driving isn’t worth it, but searching for virtual monsters and driving definitely isn’t worth it.
There was also a great uproar caused by the fact that armed robbers and kidnappers were lurking in places where lucrative Pokemon were placed in the game. Essentially, people would go to a location where they were hoping to catch a Mewtwo but instead found themselves at gunpoint being robbed for their wallets.
Controversy aside, Pokemon GO is one of the most fun augmented reality games out there. It integrates the real world seamlessly into the game and gives players the opportunity to run around outside and enjoy the virtual hunt to find better Pokemon than their friends. If you haven’t tried Pokemon GO yet, you should definitely check it out.
If Pokemon GO is a little too childish for you, you should give Ingress a try. Also created by Niantic, gives players the opportunity to choose their side in a fictional sci-fi controversy. Members of “The Enlightened” are in favor of using alien technology to advance the human race, and members of “The Resistance” oppose it, believing that it will lead to the downfall of humanity. Ingress players must choose their faction and travel around the real world searching for portals (which typically correspond with actual landmarks) which they can conquer for their faction.
Similar to Pokemon GO, Niantic has been constantly updating Ingress since they released it for Android in 2013, adding new locations and capabilities into the gameplay. Even though the game has been around for a while now, it is still massively popular with augmented reality gamers.
Ingress players not only have the opportunity to explore new places and find interesting landmarks in their quest to find game-based portals, but they can also meet up with other players and collaborate to advance their position in the game.
Jurassic World: Alive
If you’re a fan of the Jurassic Park movie series, you need to check out the augmented reality game that allows you to transport yourself into the world of dinosaurs, Jurassic World: Alive. The game populates real-world civilizations with free-roaming dinosaurs that you can interact with, some of them friendly and some of them dangerous.
Part of the game involves collecting DNA samples which you can use to create your own unique dinosaurs. You then have the option to share your created dinosaur with your friends. Who doesn’t want their own virtual pet dinosaur?
Players of Jurassic World: Alive can also battle teams of dinosaurs against other players in real-time. Battle winners are awarded prizes like new dinosaurs and other in-game features. Overall, the game has impressive graphics, great integration with the real world, and a ton of features that keep it interesting for hours and hours.
Developed in 2012 by British game development studio Six to Start for iOS and Android platforms, Zombies, Run! is a fantastic augmented reality game for anyone who enjoys jogging. Players will hear stories about a zombie outbreak while they’re jogging and are required to do other things that one might have to do in a real zombie apocalypse such as collecting items for survival, coming to the aid of other players, and, of course, running from hordes of flesh-eating zombies.
The main focus of the game is to motivate players to get out in the real world, and so it’s a great way to motivate yourself if Spotify playlists just don’t do it for you. The story in the game is also impressively well written, making it feel like you’re living out one of your favorite zombie movies.
There are over 300 missions that players can unlock in the game, so you’ll never get bored. These stories can be played while jogging at any pace and no matter where you are in the world. Plus, like other fitness-related apps, Zombies, Run! can also collect fitness information, so you can track your progress and reach all your fitness goals.
Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir
If you’d prefer to play your augmented reality games on your Nintendo 3DS instead of your smartphone, you need to buy Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir, which populates the real world with ghosts that you must defeat using the Nintendo 3DS’s camera feature. If you already have a fear of ghosts, though, I’d probably stay away from this game.
Players are tasked with freeing a character named Maya from a mysterious diary. To do so, they must flip through all 16 pages of the diary and interact with the creepy apparitions that appear on each page.
Spirit Camera is great for those who enjoy story-driven games, as the narrative within the game is captivating and exceptionally well written. Players will watch videos, interact with characters, and even enter a virtual haunted house in their quest to save Maya.
The game also features some additional modes that keep the fun with phantoms going even longer. In the Spirit Photography mode, they can take pictures of the world around them and watch as haunting images appear in the photos. In Spirit Check mode, they can take selfies of themselves and their friends and watch as creepy spirits appear in the background. If you were wondering what it would be like to battle yourself or one of your friends as a ghost, you can do just that by overlaying a picture on a ghost in Spirit Challenge mode.