Want some justification that the time you’re spending on Pokémon GO and Ingress isn’t pointless? The creative brain behind Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies sticks up for these newer titles, saying that these augmented reality (AR) games are actually just the latest evolution of MMO virtual worlds.
Raph Koster points out that players are merely becoming the avatars that they used to control in MMORPGs: “With smartphones, we tend to think of ‘the client’ as meaning the little screen we stare through to catch a Pokémon. But that’s not accurate. Take a look at the list of permissions that the game asks for. That’s not a self-contained app. That’s your whole life. You are fully an avatar. Pokémon has your email, and can send emails for you. Pokémon knows everywhere you walk. Pokémon can connect to your car. Pokémon knows who your friends are.”
Koster points out how other aspects of MMOs are spilling over into AR games, including player vs. player combat, real world economy impact, and a user-generated world. He has some words of caution about how these games should be handled and perceived but also exalts in the joy that they’re bringing to users.