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Posts Tagged ‘pogo

Two days ago, I used my first Pokémon Go (PoGo) exclusive raid experience to illustrate how social leadership emerged from a crowd.

Today I illustrate how members of a crowd chose to respond to investigative analysis. In doing so, I link a game-related phenomenon to a social one in the teaching fraternity.

Nicholas Oyzon AKA Trainer Tips is a PoGo expert, an inspiring YouTuber, and an unofficial ambassador of the game franchise. He released a video detailing the efforts of people trying to unlock Niantic’s secret recipe for Ex Raid gyms.
 

Video source

Here is my TLDR take on the video: A few individuals used crowdsourced data, investigative analysis, and the scientific method to suggest Niantic’s algorithms for exclusive gyms.

You would think that any PoGo player still yearning for a chance to battle and catch Mewtwo would be thankful for such data analysis and timely information. However, if the Singapore PoGo Facebook group is an indicator of lay reaction here, the response was flat or negative.

A member posted a link to Oyzon’s YouTube video.

These were the types of responses when I last made the screenshot. I have labelled them A, B, and C.

A qualitative researcher might suggest that the low number of responses could indicate the low interest to helpful information. This suggestion would carry more weight if the researcher also reported the numbers of responses to complaints, polls, show offs, etc. — these regularly garner hundreds of comments.

If we think of the Facebook group as a microcosm of how some local social media-connected players think, then they fall into a few categories.

  • A: Ignorant. “Catch no ball” is a local colloquialism for “could not understand” or “over my head”. Either the video content was too complex or people in this group were unable/unwilling to process it.
  • B: Atheoretical. Unlike category A, those in B practice without theory. They operate by “what works” and care little for “why it works”.
  • C: Stubborn or wilfully ignorant. This group may or may not possess theories, and in both cases refuse to learn something new and useful.

People belonging to Group A and B might still be open to learning something new and helpful. People in Group C are unlikely to be open enough to learn.

There are certainly other groups of people, especially when this categorisation is applied to adult learners. I have met them all — these are teachers both preservice and inservice, lecturers, trainers, and professors. What is both frightening is the number that fall into Category C.

You might assume that teachers and educators should be most aware of the theories of learning and teaching practices that enable them. You would be wrong. What is worse is that while Category C is small, this group discourages those around them and holds back entire systems from improving pedagogically.

This is why I do what I do. I battle the lack of pedagogical theory in the hope of defeating ignorance. I fight the war of wilful ignorance in the hope of defeating apathy. It is relatively easy to win battles, but the war rages on.

I participated in a Pokémon Go exclusive raid of the Mewtwo boss yesterday. I did not plan on leading the charge, but that is what happened.

It was my first exclusive raid, but after reading in forums, chatting with a few Mewtwo veterans, and watching YouTube videos of the social gatherings from such raids, I was looking forward to it.

My ExRaid Pass to the Mewtwo battle.

I arrived early at the raid venue and it was already crowded. I asked people if they were already grouped by team colours — this maximises the number of Poké balls you receive to catch Mewtwo — but most people milled about.

I was not about to leave such an important catch to chance, so I asked teams to form and people started self-organising. As I busied myself with making sure that there were enough people per group, I also took the advice of two veterans.

One player told me that we did not need to form teams of 20; about 10 players per team would do. So we divided large groups into smaller ones and checked the numbers. Another veteran reminded me that the quality of the player mattered — level 20+ players needed to be put in groups with high level (35+) players for maximum effect. So we checked again.

My battle party for Mewtwo.

I took the precaution of reminding everyone in my group to bring the optimal Pokémon to the fight (Dark types like Tyranitar) and not engage in selfish behaviours like using a Blissey (very tanky but offers little damage). I told everyone how we would use the private group function to exclude spoofers and cheaters.

I had to do some people management when one member of my team walked away for a smoke, another was distracted with multiple accounts, and yet another panicked with his choice of battlers. Then I offered words of encouragement before we started.

Thankfully, my group’s battle went smoothly and we beat our Mewtwo with about half the time to spare. Only my first three Tyranitars were spent from the battle.

Everyone in our group managed to catch their own Mewtwo after that. I managed to catch a 91% IV Mewtwo with ideal move sets. Now I have to decide whether or not to use Rare Candy and stardust to power it up for other battles.

Screenshot of my Pokémon Go app's journal showing evidence of the Mewtwo raid and capture.

My 91%IV Mewtwo with ideal move sets.

Our partner group of 10 players had more high level players and they completed the battle about 20 seconds before we did. Unfortunately, two members of that group could not catch their Mewtwos despite the team and damage bonus of Poké balls.

As a result of the extra work, I forgot to activate a Lucky Egg (to double the XP from the catch and get the New Catch bonus) and a Star Piece (to get 50% more Pokémon stardust). I also forgot to activate the video recording function on my iPhone.

If I get the opportunity to do this again, I would:

  • Try to get a team of solo account players (they are more focused)
  • Ensure an even mix of low and high level players in each group
  • Remind players to set up battle parties in their phones prior to fighting Mewtwo
  • Remind everyone to activate Lucky Eggs and Star Pieces if they wished
  • Screen capture the process

I am glad that I did my homework on battling and catching Mewtwo from game sites, forums, and online videos. The emergent social leadership was something that just had to be done, but I was inspired by stories in social media.

Emergent leadership is not just about one person and the start of a journey. After I started the fire, the groups were self-sustaining because at least one member was experienced or had done their homework. After the group-based battle and individual attempts at catching, there was also the need to congratulate those that got their Mewtwo and console those whose quarry fled.

A few strangers thanked me for organising the group. One person even shook my hand and said he hoped to see me again at another battle. I am just thankful the group listened and offered timely advice.

There are some nasty or selfish people in Pokémon Go, but this experience showed me that there are nice ones too. And even the not-so-nice ones put their unpleasantness aside in pursuit of a shared goal.

I reflect today on what started as a Pokémon raid battle and ended up being a symbolic battle between wilful ignorance and informed decision-making.

I tweeted this a few days ago in the aftermath of an Absol raid.

Absol.

An Absol is a Pokémon that you can catch in Pokémon Go (PoGo) only in four-star level raids. This means that they cannot be caught in the wild. So when one appeared on my game’s gym radar, I made the effort to get to it.

I have since been in two Absol raid battles, but there was a common pattern to both.

Despite its rarity, the Absol does not seem to be as popular as the current legendary raid boss, Groudon. While the Groudon can attract multiple teams of 20 players each, the two Absol raids I participated in drew six and four players respectively — barely enough for narrow victories.

Groudon.

I did my homework before battling. Against an unfamiliar enemy, I got information from websites (like this), YouTube videos (like this), and the Poke Genie app.

I found out that Absol was susceptible to Pokémon that were good fighting, fairy, and bug types. I prepared a raid party to take advantage of Absol’s weaknesses.

Absol counter raid party.

At my first raid, I was one of six who cooperated to take the Absol boss down. I fought in a non-team gym and was the only one carrying my team colours. This meant I would not get the gym bonus and was unlikely to get damage bonus.

When the battle started, I noticed that my fellow battlers were using the strongest possible “brute force” Pokémon they had, e.g., legendaries like Lugia (which has psychic movesets that Absol is resistant to).

The Pokémon types and movesets might not matter very much in a group of 20, but I found out how important they were in smaller groups. I topped the damaged-inflicted list in both battles against Absol because I optimised the Pokémon types and movesets. This was despite being the unique one of six, and in my second raid, one of four in the battle group.

After the first battle, I savoured my victory quietly in a shelter nearby. However, my reflection was soon broken by a PoGo uncle arguing with a younger PoGo player. Perhaps “arguing” is the wrong word — they were just talking very loudly and kept repeating themselves.

The uncle cited what he had heard others say, what he believed in, and what always worked for him in other battles. His younger counterpart asked questions, and cited what she watched and read.

It was like Uncle Rock meeting Hard Place Girl. Neither seemed to be able to convince the other. This was a PoGo battle in which both opponents thought they were the boss, but no one was going to win.

In the end, it was a symbolic battle between wilful ignorance and informed decision-making. Both are common enough in daily life and in work. Applied in a game, wilful ignorance just hurts the player. Applied to the life and work of a teacher, for example, wilful ignorance hurts children for years to come.

It does not take playing a game like PoGo to make this realisation about wilful ignorance. It should not. But I see this still happening in our class and tutorial rooms. This strengthens my resolve to keep battling such weakness with informed decision-making in 2018. Though difficult, I am still going to try to catch ‘em all.

Like the privileged few who get to play Pokémon Go (PoGo) while overseas, I found out how different the experience was compared to playing in Singapore.

Mr Mime from Amsterdam.

I am not referring to catching the regional exclusive Pokémon (like Mr Mime in Europe). I am talking about the culture of play.

Playing PoGo was much less stressful there than here. The gyms had half or almost fully fainted Pokémon, so they were easy to take down.

There were practically no spoofers to contend with. There were also relatively few PoGo actual players around, so there was practically no competition for placing Pokémon in gyms.

Pokémon in gyms.

Once I placed the Pokémon in gyms, they were easy to defend and I received my daily allotment of 50 coins. In fact, I was worried how long they would stay there and if they would return before I flew home.

Playing PoGo in Singapore, on the other hand, is a battle. Neighbourhood aunties and uncles are territorial about “their” gyms, spoofing and shaving are the norm, and general play is frantic.

I only missed one thing about playing in Singapore. Raids for legendary Pokémon are easy here because players of all ages flock to those gyms. I could have looked for social media channels in Amsterdam to coordinate raids, but I was already preoccupied with coordinating site visits. The game took a back seat to PoGo.

Even playing a mobile game in different countries reveals their overall psyches — laissez faire there, kiasu here.

I still play Pokémon Go.

Perhaps play is the wrong word. I persist with it when others have stopped because it represents how I like to learn.

While some teachers talk about ways to enhance teaching with PoGo, I consider how it enables powerful learning. I have shared some perspectives before. Today I suggest more learning opportunities.

The new PoGo raid battles remind me about learning just-in-time (JIT) instead of learning just-in-case (JIC).

The recently implemented raids present boss Pokémon at gyms. This typically requires people to work in groups to defeat each boss, i.e., many small monsters need to simultaneously attack a Gozilla-sized one to reap rewards.

Normal gameplay, like catching Pokémon, spinning stops, and occupying team gyms, is 24×7. However, raids have limited play each day. Players have to refer to a raid alert in the game app which lets them know when raids will happen, where they will take place, and what level boss monster (one star to four star) they will face. Only when a raid battle starts do players know for sure exactly which boss monster they face.

Players in Singapore might also rely on a web app that provides raid alerts like an islandwide radar. A player can target higher level raids with others in the hope of getting better rewards.

What does this have to do with JIT over JIC learning?

The PoGo raid system is like learning JIT because you have to wait for a signal (raid alerts) before responding by seeking more information (the where and when of raids). There is not much you can do by way of textbook-style preparation because the exact opponent is not revealed until the battle starts.

Connected players consult one another in Facebook and Telegram groups. Groups of uncles and aunties exchange strategies socially while waiting for battle or in the aftermath of one (the how of raids).

There are very few instructions and tips provided by Niantic, the company behind PoGo. Most of the strategies emerge from the collective efforts of experimentation, sharing in community, data mining, etc.

Players consult gurus like Nick of Trainer Tips on YouTube for which Pokémon to have and prepare as standard battlers. Players might benefit from the research and recommendations of math nerds who have calculated battlers with the best DPS (damage per second).

PoGo raids are like life: They can be anticipated, but they are fluid. We develop JIT learning naturally in life because of emerging issues or opportunities. PoGo raids encourage JIT learning because they mirror life.

The beauty of PoGo is that while players think they learn content like Pokémon names and battle strategies, they actually learn how to think quickly, critically, and socially. This is an insidious but desirable game-based learning outcome and something that gamification does not easily address.

Although I am no longer an academic, I see research opportunities everywhere. One set of untapped research is in Pokémon Go (PoGo).

I am not talking about the already done-to-death exercise studies or about the motivations to play and keep playing.

I am thinking about how sociologists might add to PoGo’s trend analysis. Number crunchers have already collected data on its meteoric rise and now its declining use. While these provide useful information to various stakeholders, I wonder if anyone has considered the impact of PoGo uncles and aunties.

I am not the first to observe how much older players have started playing PoGo. I tweeted this a while ago and someone just started a thread in the PoGoSG Facebook group about uncles and aunties at play.

A quick search on Twitter with keywords like “pokemon go” and “auntie” or “uncle” might surprise you.

The PoGo aunties and uncles are quite obvious here. So far I have noticed three main types: Solo aunties, uncles in pairs or small groups, and auntie-uncle couples. There are more types, of course, but these three are common enough to blip frequently on social radar.

But I would not be content with just describing the phenomenon. I would ask if they contribute to the “death” of PoGo just like how the older set adopted Facebook and how teens then migrated to Snapchat.

We should not underestimate the impact of uncles and aunties. After all, there must be a reason for this saying: Old age and treachery will always overcome youthfulness and skill.

My reflection today is about the value of game-based learning over gamification. I use a personal accomplishment in Pokémon Go to illustrate both.

A few days ago, I joined Pokémon Go’s “Club 141” by registering 141 Pokémon in my Pokédex.

PoGo Club 141.

This is not an official club. It is an informal achievement that players here use to denote how they have collected all readily accessible Generation 1 Pokémon.

There are 151 Pokémon in Generation 1. Four are regional exclusives and you have to be in Australia, Europe, the USA, or in “Asia” (specifically Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan) to collect these. The other six have not been released by gaming company Niantic. So if you want to “catch ’em all” in Singapore, you are limited to 141 Pokémon.

I am not the first to join Club 141. Many in the Singapore PoGo Facebook group share this accomplishment when they hit this mark.

I managed to do this three months after the game’s release here by consistent and strategic work. I figured out what the most efficient and effective strategies were for me.

  • I focused on completing my collection and keeping the best instead of  battling or hoarding.
  • I optimised my resources for collecting by favouring Poké balls over potions.
  • I collected what I could where I could to transform lower forms to higher forms instead of hoping for the latter to appear in the wild.
  • I used crowdsourced information [example] of where possible spawning nests of a particular type was to catch many of one type I lacked.
  • When SGPokéMap was up, I used it to track and collect Pokémon I did not have.

The game also tells me that I am currently as Level 27 and I have walked 445km while playing.

PoGo level 27.

Most gamers who take PoGo seriously will agree that the game gets difficult after Level 20 because you need disproportionately more experience points (XP) to level up.

PoGo jogger.

The distance I covered is an underestimate as PoGo is not precise in measuring location or distance covered. It tends to favour motion in straight lines and life does not afford that. All that said, basic math tells me that I walked an average of 5km a day over 90 days.

Trying to join Club 141, levelling up, and getting a badge for how far I have walked are principles of gamification. While these are drawn from games, they rely largely on extrinsic factors to keep people playing (or studying in the case of schooling): Complete quests for rewards, get promoted, collect tokens.

These are not wrong, but they can only take a gamer or learner so far. The game company, learning designer, LMS manager, or teacher has to keep offering rewards if the motivation is purely intrinsic. Pokémon Go has already faced a drop off in gamers when interest waned or when gamers filled up their Pokédex.

What does game-based learning (GBL) offer over gamification?

Beyond external rewards, good GBL makes the motivation intrinsic. I will keep playing the game because I set my own goals and not because the game bribes or goads me.

For example, newly implemented daily rewards system is a bonus, but I have challenged myself to get better versions (higher individual values or IVs) of the Pokémon I already have. I also plan on hatching unhatched eggs I have collected and battling in gyms to collect free coins which I will exchange for egg incubators. This is like a learner who strives for mastery or seeks self-directed goals in game-based learning.

Mastery and self-directed learning are not unique to GBL, but they are more enjoyable within a gaming context. Enjoyable does not mean easy; it means difficult fun.

I can make links between gaming and pedagogy because I play games and I am an educator. This is why I encourage teachers and educators who wish to harness the power of off-the-shelf or mobile games NOT designed for the classroom to play games and then reflect deeply to make their own connections.


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