Embodied dwelling: the ontology of objects in Pokémon GO

TA Holland, Henry Denyer-Simmons

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review

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The actions of making trails and wandering along them have long been limited to just a couple of realms: either they have existed in media such as games, in the imagination, or they have taken place in the physical world. This article is a
speculative engagement with the metaphysics of the mobile phone-based
augmented reality game Pokémon GO, which combines the physical and digital
worlds into a unified experience of embodiment, movement and play. It considers the nature of the embodiment experienced by Pokémon GO players, and their relationship to the spaces and places in which they dwell during and after play – simultaneously in both the real world and the virtual game world of Pokémon GO. Both worlds offer the opportunity to experience different instantiations of the same space, in the sense that the digital world recreates aspects of the physical world and, in so doing, fuses and entangles them. Pokémon GO is an interesting case study because, unlike many other digital games, it enforces physical movement through the real world as a mechanic of gameplay. It is also a wildly popular game that builds upon similar mechanics of the forerunner game Ingress by the same publisher, Niantic. Embodiment is positioned alongside the notion of dwelling as a distinct practice of attunement to and engagement with the world – as a turning towards the world through the use of devices that reveal hidden digital features. Additionally, the article explores the ontology of objects within the game, plus the mobile devices used to access the game world, both of which operate to distinguish the game world from the underlying ‘real’ world. These objects are positioned as ‘mediators’, after Latour’s actor-network theory (ANT). Their role is described as boundary markers and access points between the digital and physical.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRefereed Proceedings of the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association Conference 2017
Subtitle of host publicationCommunication Worlds: Access, Voice, Diversity, Engagement
EditorsFiona Martin
PublisherAustralian and New Zealand Communication Association
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)1448-4331
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventAustralia and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) 2017 Annual Conference - University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 04 Jul 201707 Jul 2017
https://anzca.org/conference-event/anzca-conference-2017/ (Conference website )
https://web.archive.org/web/20200311022119/https://www.anzca.net/conferences/past-conferences/2017-conf.html (Conference website)


ConferenceAustralia and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) 2017 Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleCommunication worlds: Access, voice, diversity, engagement
OtherThe conference invited reflections on the worlds of communication we inhabit, create and reshape – from ancient, modern and future communication worlds through to colonial and postcolonial worlds, activist and start-up worlds, ecologies, ecosystems and environments.

As we can see from our various encounters with the internet and social media across the globe, different types of ‘worlding’ enable and/or inhibit our access to, voice, participation in and engagement with media and communication spheres. With these four concepts in mind, ANZCA 2017 sought to explore who has access to our symbolic worlds and who is excluded from them; what knowledges, skills, resources and strategies enable us to enter these worlds; and what forms of presence these environments support, as well as what absences they suggest. Our second theme explored the concepts of voice and listening – who decides, on what terms and with what consequences, when people are given platforms to speak? How and in what contexts are they heard? Media diversity was a third theme, inviting accounts of how we might reimagine communication worlds, policies, practices and platforms for the more effective expression of cultural diversity. Engagement, our final theme asked colleagues how we might invite and recruit people to communicate in our worlds, and how we might we gauge the depth, breadth or scope of their interests, responses and contributions.
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