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Posts Tagged ‘PokémonGo

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.

Yesterday I mentioned how the edtech vendor DRIP — data rich, information poor — approach was like torture. Today I elaborate on one aspect of data-richness and link that to an under-utilised aspect of game-based learning.

The data-richness that some edtech providers tout revolves around a form of data analytics — learning analytics. If they do their homework, they might address different levels of learning analytics: Descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, prescriptive.

A few years of following trends in learning analytics allows me to distill some problems with vendor-touted data or learning analytics:

  • Having data is not the same as having timely and actionable information
  • While the data is used to improve the technological system, it does not guarantee meaningful learning (a smarter system does not necessarily lead to a smarter student)
  • Such data is collected without users’ knowledge or consent
  • Users do not have a choice but to participate, e.g., they need to access resources and submit assignments to institutional LMS
  • The technological system sometimes ignores the existing human system, e.g., coaches and tutors

I define learning analytics and highlight a feature in Pokémon Go to illustrate how data needs to become information to be meaningful to the learner.

First, a seminal definition from Long and Siemens (2011):

… learning analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimizing learning and the environments in which it occurs

ERIC source

The processes of measurement, collection, analysis, and reporting are key to analytics. I use a recent but frustrating feature of Pokémon Go to illustrate each.

My PoGo EX Raid Pass.

The Pokémon Go feature is the “EX Raid Pass” invite system (I shorten this to ERP). Players need to be invited to periodic raids to battle, defeat, and catch the rare and legendary, Mewtwo. The ERP seemed to be random like a lottery and rewarded few like a lottery as well.

Even though Niantic (Pokémon Go’s parent company) provided vague tips on how to get ERPs, players all over the world became frustrated as they did not know why they were not selected despite playing by the rules and putting in much effort.

To make matters worse, a few players seemed to strike the lottery more than once. At the time of writing, I know of one player who claimed on Facebook that he has eight ERPs for the next invite on 9 Jan 2018.

Eight Ex Raid Passes!

Players have swarmed Reddit, game forums, and Facebook groups to crack this nut. Some offered their own beliefs and tips. Much of this was hearsay and pseudoscience, but it was data nonetheless — unverifiable and misleading data.

A few Facebookers then decided to poll ERP recipients about where their EX Raids were. This was the start of measurement as they looked for discrete data points. As the data points grew, the Facebookers compiled lists (data collection).

Such data measurement and collection was not enough to help non-ERP players take action. The collected data was messy and there was no pattern to it.

I know of at least one local Pokémon Go player who organised the data as visualisations. He created a tool that placed pinned locations in a Singapore map as potential EX Raid venues. With this tool, it became obvious that locations were reused for EX Raids.

Potential EX Raids hotspots.

Pattern of reuse of venues for EX Raids.

However, such a visualisation was still not information. While the data pointed to specific spots where EX Raids were likely to happen, they still did not provide actionable information on what players might actually do to get an ERP.

To do this, Facebooker-players asked recipients when their ERPs were valid and when they raided those spots previously. One of the patterns to emerge was normal raids of any levels (1 to 5) at hotspot gyms a few days before Ex Raids. So if an Ex Raid was likely to happen on Saturday at Gym X, the advice was to hit that gym on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to increase the likelihood of receiving an ERP.

Collectively, these actions were a form of analysis because of the attempts to reduce, generalise, and ultimately suggest a pattern of results. This actionable information was reported and communicated online (social media networks) and in-person (auntie and uncle network).

The advice to players seeking ERPs is a reduction of much data, effort, and distilled knowledge from a crowd. It illustrates how data becomes information. I have benefitted from the data-to-information meta process because I followed the advice and received an ERP (see image embedded earlier).

The advice does not constitute a guarantee. With more players using this strategy, more will enter the pool eligible for selection. There is still a lottery, but you increase your chances with the scientific approach. You do not just rely on lucky red underwear; you create your own “luck”.

Now back to edtech DRIP. Edtech solutions that claim to leverage on analytics are only good if they not only help the technical system get better at analysis, but also help the teacher and learner take powerful and meaningful action. Edtech solutions that are data rich but information poor only help themselves. Edtech solutions that turn rich data into meaningful information help us.

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 LOL’d when I watched Shmoyoho’s latest songify, Pokémon Power. It was a mockery of a minister’s fearmongering of pocket monsters.


Video source

Laughter aside, the video illustrated how anyone can demonise anything. Rationality and evidence be damned!

The ridiculousness of the minister’s sermon is probably obvious to most. But there are more insidious sins when gamification (e.g., Pokémon Go badges) and game-based learning (playing Pokémon Go in general) are applied in schooling.

For example, there is the practice of blind gamification with badges. The badges in the current version of Pokémon Go add little tangible value to the player. This is like awarding stars for reading books or giving students stickers to BYO, but the lessons for doing these are lost. This is because the motivation is decoupled from learning and its outcomes.

In game-based learning, earnest but uncritical teachers might have justified their use of Pokémon Go to promote exercise or to teach content. There is little evidence that PoGo does both effectively. But again, rationality and evidence be damned.

The lesson that is hidden deep in any game worth playing is this: The motivation to play is linked tightly to the learning of skills (e.g., negotiation, strategic thinking, planning) and/or the adoption of values (e.g., persistence, patience, fair play). These aspects may be so insidious that they are difficult to describe or quantify. But this does not mean that they are less valuable than what lies on the surface.

Observe, listen to, and play with any child enthralled with Minecraft. You can do the same with a persistent neighbourhood auntie or uncle with Pokémon Go. They will teach you a thing or two. Rationality and evidence be embraced!
 

Today’s reflection is courtesy of a tweet and a Pokémon Go (PoGo) auntie.

I do not know how much more research and how many more articles like this need to be shared before the “digital native” myth is dispelled.

I anticipate “never” because some people will cling on to what they believe in despite the evidence and compelling arguments against the myth [some curated resources].

But here is a different critical look at the article. Are the old skills — word processing and using spreadsheets — good measures of digital ability?

They might still be relevant in the cubicle age. But this age overlaps with the shared work space, home office, coffee place, remote work, part-timer, and startup ages.

The latter work spaces and job scopes hint at a different set of skills, e.g., the ability to keep on learning and to learn on the run. Being tech-savvy is more about wise use, not just skill-based or even skilful use.

Being tech-dependent does not mean being tech-savvy.

A PoGo auntie I met yesterday personified this sort of digital savvy or nativeness.

The PoGo auntie straddled her bicycle at a raid venue. She waited for players to arrive so that we could battle a Pokémon boss together. The auntie not only found out how many were intending to battle, she also advised others around her.

More impressively, she was armed with more than one phone and account. You can do PoGo raids just once at each venue. Having more devices and accounts allowed the PoGo auntie to participate more than once over the 60 minutes that the raid was available.

The auntie was quite adept at choosing suitable battlers. She had obviously learnt from experience, exchanging info nuggets, and possibly watching YouTube videos.

I call her an auntie, but I qualify as an uncle myself. She was on her bicycle and I was on my e-scooter. We were both successful with the raid and we both caught the boss Pokémon in the end despite just having three battlers and rumours that Niantic had strengthened the bosses.

That auntie and this uncle are technically more savvy and native than the tertiary students in the study even if we do not word process or spreadsheet as much. We learn because of Pokémon Go. We embrace technology because it enables us to learn on the go.

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.


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