Pokemon Go: Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality?

By | July 27, 2016

Pokemon is back with a new Virtual Reality ( or is it augmented reality? ) game for our smart phones. It has made an entry into our lives through technology by hitting straight to our mobile screens. It is now called “Pokemon Go” and is available on the play stores of both android and iOS. But the difference, this time, is Pokemon fever is engulfing the adults too! People are going berserk, seeking out Pokemon in rooms, at road corners, in offices and even in the washroom. In a short span of time, this Pokemon app has become popular among every age group and has managed to get 15 million downloads.

Pokemon Go - Augumented or Virtual reality?
Pokemania fever dates back to late 1990s. It originally started off with handheld games – Pokemon Red and blue followed by yellow and then gold and silver. For those few years, it was quite a vogue. And every child back then has wished for a Pokemon to be a part of this real world. Can Pokemon be real?  As of now, not really! But technology has helped us simulate an environment in which Pokemon is real.

So what is “Pokemon Go “? What does it actually do? And the most important question, how does it work? These are some of the questions which might have crossed your mind. So here we are to quench your thirst.

What is Pokemon Go?

It is a game which uses GPS service and clock of our phone to determine our surroundings. It gives us a feeling of a Pokemon roaming around. We have to catch them and complete the Pokemon challenge. It actually makes us get our ass up and search for Pokemon. The interesting part is that this 3d Pokemon game lets you explore the real world. It provides different Pokemon at different places at random times and makes you travel places.

Pikachu - Augumented Reality Pokemon GO
How does it work?

It works on the technology of Augmented Reality.  So, Pokemon Go is augmented reality game. But it is often confused with virtual reality and people often say it to be Pokémon virtual world game. But that would be totally wrong. There is a fine line between augmented reality and virtual reality.

Pokemon Go- an Augmented reality game or Virtual reality game?

Thought there is a very thin line between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality but there are some distinct points that help us differentiate between them.

1) Augmented Reality is a technology which modifies the reality by adding computer generated elements. In simple words, it is a fusion of real world with a virtual one. This is used in apps which use digital components in such a way that it appears as a part of real life. It can be used on mobiles and laptops whereas the Virtual reality is a recreation of real life. It requires you to wear a headset like Oculus Rift or PlayStation Rift.

Oculus Rift girl

So it wouldn’t be right to say that Pokemon Go is a Virtual Reality game as only adds a virtual element i.e. “Pokemon” to the real world. It doesn’t offer a digital recreation of a real life setting, a characteristic essential for virtual reality.

2) The world map of Pokemon is a map of this existing world. This makes the game AR based as there is no computer generated reality.

3) Moreover, Virtual Reality is the one in which user fails to distinguish between what is real and what is not. Definitely, not the case in Pokemon game challenges.


Pokemon is an augmented reality game because it depends on the real world to show the Pokemon and it manages to do so without any fancy gear. Virtual reality and augmented reality are becoming popular reality fast. Augmented reality has already become popular with its fancy Pokemon Go game. Get ready to ride this wave. This is going to be a good one.

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