Intergenerational Locative Play

Cover of Intergenerational Locative Play

Augmenting Family



Table of contents

(8 chapters)

This chapter is concerned with examining the families that play Pokémon Go together within the context of spatial practices. The chapter begins by outlining the general approach to spatiality that we adopt throughout this book, which is predicated on the ‘spatial turn’ within the social sciences. Here, spatial practices are understood as being socially constructed in day-to-day live, as opposed to being something simply given. In other words, ‘the concept of the city’ and the ‘urban fact’ (de Certeau, 1984, p. 1, italics in original) are not one and the same thing. Instead, the phenomenology of space is moulded in the social realm as part of the practice of everyday life, which has consequences for hybrid reality games (HRGs) like Pokémon Go. After delineating between ‘space’ and ‘place’ à la the ‘mobilities turn’, we shift our attention to embodied approaches to urban life. This begin with an examination of the art of the flânerie, which has been reimagined to account for the ubiquity of mobile media, and more recently, locative games. A review of the literature surrounding locative games demonstrates that, for the most part, concerns about spatiality have not extended to the kind of intergenerational play that is the focus of this book. Drawing on our original study of Pokémon Go, as outlined above, then, the chapter is driven by the following research questions. First, to what extent does Pokémon Go lead to families spending more time outside and how is this reshaping experienced. Second, what effect does this HRG has on the routes and pathways families choose to follow while traversing their physical setting, as well as the sites they frequent. Third, to what extent do families engage with the various elements of Pokémon Go and what does this suggest about the evolution of locative play in the context of earlier location-based social networks (LBSNs).


This chapter is concerned with exploring the various ways in which Pokémon Go complements or challenges family life. The chapter begins by explicating the multisided concept of play and the myriad definitions that surround this term. Having established the various way in which this phenomenon can improve the lives of those who engage in it – physically, emotionally and cognitively – we go on to consider how play has gradually shifted from public spaces and into designated playgrounds, and how this trend corresponds with children concurrently moving away from the streets and into their bedrooms. Following this, we explore the impact digital technologies are having on the practice of parenting, paying particular attention to video games as a significant facet of youth culture that is often associated with a range of negative connotations. Yet, video games are not intrinsically bad. As we outline, research on intergenerational play and joint-media engagement (JME) readily demonstrate the many benefits families can experience when these games are played together. What is missing from this developing body of work is the familial playing of locative games and the extent to which this practice adds contours to our understanding of this field. The chapter is, therefore, driven by the following research questions. First, why and how do families play Pokémon Go? This includes the different roles that family members adopt, alongside motivations for families playing this game, how the playing of this game complements the rhythms of family life and the extent to which this hybrid reality game (HRG) is suited to intergenerational play. Second, what impact does locative familial play have on families, collectively speaking, and regarding individual family members? Here, we are not just interested in whether this game allows families to bond and how this bonding process is experienced, but also whether the familial play of Pokémon Go provides families with any learning opportunities that might facilitate personal growth beyond the game. Third, what worries might parents have about the familial playing of Pokémon Go and to what extent does the locative aspect of this game reshape their apprehensions?


This chapter is concerned with the social relationships and communities that families engage with while playing Pokémon Go. The chapter begins by considering the release of this hybrid reality game (HRG) in the summer of 2016, and the extent to which it seemingly lends itself to communities and the development of social relationships through play. Following this, we demonstrate that while the evidence for Pokémon Go facilitating new relationships is apparent, the kind of relationships in question are not explicitly explicated through extant literature. Accordingly, we develop the theoretical framework that undergirds the exigency of the chapter. This includes Granovetter's (1973) taxonomy of social ties among people in social networks – strong, weak and latent ties – and the suggested effect these categories have on the sharing of information. Having outlined the implication of this taxonomy for comprehending social relationships forged through Pokémon Go, we introduce Gerbaudo's (2012) ‘liquid organising’ to explore how weak ties have been enhanced through social media, which raises pertinent question in the context of familial locative play. Critically, then, this chapter looks to understand what kind of social ties can be formed when the playing of Pokémon Go is itself performed in the context of the family unit, using the theoretical frameworks outlined above. This chapter is driven by the following research questions. First, what kinds of social relationships have developed for the families that play Pokémon Go together? This includes whether intergenerational players have made new friends, as well as strengthened current relationships. Second, has this HRG facilitated friendships for the children that play Pokémon Go? In other words, is a community of players still a salient feature of playing this HRG, in the same way that it was shortly after its release in the Summer 2016?


This chapter is concerned with examining Pokémon Go in light of the digital economy and surveillance capitalism. The chapter begins by developing the theoretical framework underpinning this undertaking, which includes Bauman and Lyon (2013) ‘liquid surveillance’ and Zuboff's (2019) ‘surveillance capitalism’. Following this, we outline the various implications involved in the playing of Pokémon Go, when the production of locative data is not framed as leisure but labour. While Pokémon Go might be suited to the machinations of surveillance capitalism, as we establish, little research has examined this topic from the position of familial locative play or joint-media engagement. As a corollary to this, then, one of the aims of this chapter is to understand how issues of surveillance are perceived by the parents who play this hybrid reality game (HRG) with their children. Consequently, the chapter is driven by the following research questions. First, are families cognisant of the data they produce by playing this HRG, and how these data might be used? Second, do families think critically about the gamic mechanics of this HRG, such as the spawning locations of Pokémon and the reasoning behind these decisions? Third, are participants concerned about the potential application of their gamic data, and if so, how are these concerns reconciled? Fourth, do participants use the familial playing of Pokémon Go as an opportunity to discuss the production of data and its multifaced uses with their children?


This chapter reiterates the conclusions drawn on Pokémon Go in the context of intergenerational play. We begin by reflecting on the exigency of this book, before summarising our key findings under the following headings: (1) spatial activity and cognisance, (2) familial rhythms and digital labour, (3) playful bonding and ‘non-confrontational spaces’, (4) personal development and cursory connections, (5) familial challenges and concerns, (6) surveillance and the game beneath the game. Importantly, these findings are discussed in a manner that extends beyond the specificity of Pokémon Go. That is to say, our findings are used to establish how the next generation of locative games differs from the previous generations. Here, we pay particular attention to the various ways this current generation is predicated on a more dynamic digital architecture than earlier locative games and location-based social networks (LBSNs). Accordingly, this section is critical in terms of both surveying the area as it stands and positioning the current project in the canon of both locative media and intergenerational play. Moving forward, we reflect on how the experience of playing Pokémon Go has changed to accommodate the social restrictions put in place to help combat the COVID-19 global pandemic (Byford, 2020a, 2020b; Orland, 2020; Takahashi, 2020). In particular, this section highlights the adaptability of current hybrid reality games (HRGs) such as Pokémon Go in the wider field of locative games. Finally, this section looks to the future by deliberating how Pokémon Go might continue to develop in a COVID-19 world and what these developments might suggest about our approach to environments that increasingly feel at odds with the notion of play.

Cover of Intergenerational Locative Play
Publication date