What is AR? [Gaming Definition, Meaning]

Are you a parent or “not so tech savvy” teen/adult that has been wondering why players care so much about a very popular game called Pokémon Go? We understand here at Honey’s Anime that this might indeed be the case. As popular as Pokémon Go still is—and we aren’t joking saying it’s still popular despite how most mobile games go in terms of longevity—there are many who don’t have an inkling as to what makes Pokémon Go so enjoyable or useable by seemingly everyone. Pokemon Go is one of the few video games that uses AR systems or Augmented Reality. Now you might be wondering what is AR? Glad you asked, readers; that is what we plan on discussing today with all of you.

In order to teach you guys and girls out there what is AR, we have crafted this wonderful article that will make learning augmented reality extremely easy and might help you find some new games to sink some time into. Below are several games that use AR and we will go into detail explaining how the game works and how AR is utilized within the game. Don’t worry reader, by the end of our What is AR article, you won’t feel out of the loop anymore and will know without a doubt the concept of AR. Now sit back, relax and let us begin our definition article without any more delay!

1. Pokémon Go

  • System/Platform: iOS, Android
  • Publisher: Niantic
  • Developer: Niantic
  • Release Dates: Jul 6, 2016

As we mentioned before, Pokémon Go is easily the best example of AR gaming done right. Pokémon in general has been for years now a staple of what a franchise can accomplish with lovable characters, a popular anime series and some amazing video games. What changes the franchise up though is how Pokémon Go removed the boundaries of immersion and allowed players to feel as if they are real life Pokémon trainers trying to nab all the Pokémon. Yet, if you don’t know what AR gaming is yet—which is what the point of this article—then you won’t fully understand what we mean. Let us explain how Pokémon Go works and how AR fits into it.

The Pokémon Go app is a very simple game in concept. AR works within the game’s structure to allow players to find Pokémon in real world locations like cities, suburbs and towns. Using an overlay, real world maps are utilized to allow games to walk through areas and find Pokémon. When a player arrives at random locations, a Pokémon appears in the area the player is and the player uses the camera to put the Pokémon on the actual location, though not physically of course. It might sound gimmicky and overly simple but in the end it shows that AR—which is still in its infancy—has potential to work with popular franchises to make for some cool games. Just be sure to stay safe and pay attention to where you’re walking while playing Pokémon Go.

Discover Pokémon in the Real World with Pokémon GO! (Official Trailer)

2. Zombies, Run!

  • System/Platform: iOS, Android, Apple Watch
  • Publisher: Six to Start
  • Developer: Six to Start
  • Release Dates: Feb 27, 2012

While Pokémon is a very popular franchise, that might not be enough to really wow you on AR and fully explain how AR can be implemented into video games. Luckily, there are still several other AR games out there that we can use for examples and one of them happens to be a zombie focused game. Zombies, Run! by developer Six to Start is all about surviving zombies and its main function is AR gameplay. How does the AR work in Zombies, Run!? Simple, you run just like the title says to do.

Zombies, Run! works on the ideals that players get up and run—yes in real life not in game—to gain supplies and survive against the bloody thirsty enemies. What’s even better is that Zombies, Run! hides the fact that it has a lot of health benefits such as calorie counters, time, pacing and distance ran to make it a semi-good workout app despite the game ideas. In comparison to Pokémon Go, Zombies, Run! doesn’t use make AR seem very obvious but equally puts out images on your phone—using the GPS—to show your location and how you’re doing surviving the zombie threat. AR is perfect for Zombies, Run! or games like it because of how it is isn’t intrusive and it makes working out really fun! Again though, be careful where you run at, zombies don’t exist in reality but various other worldly threats do like cars, bumps in the road and such. Make sure to run in locations you’re familiar with and know to avoid danger, folks.

All-New Zombies, Run! Trailer (Official Trailer)

3. Ingress

  • System/Platform: iOS, Android
  • Publisher: Niantic
  • Developer: Niantic
  • Release Dates: Dec 14, 2013

Before making Pokémon Go, developer Niantic had another lesser known AR game available called Ingress. The idea of Ingress though is something we wish more people knew about as it uses AR in a really intriguing way. In Ingress, you assume the role of an agent for a faction of your choosing and must help said faction gain power over opposing teams. To do this involves similarities to the other games above we mentioned—Pokémon Go and Zombies, Run!—in that players explore real areas outside their homes. If you’re still not 100% understanding of how Ingress works then allow us to remove that confusion and explain what you’ll be doing for your faction and how Ingress works as a whole.

Ingress, as we mentioned, is a team-based AR mobile video game that has players beating down others not with actual violence or meet ups but with app themes. When you load up Ingress, you’ll see a map of your real location—minus some details and such—and then will be shown locations on said map that contain spots to hit or to capture. These spots are called portals and when you nab them you score points for your faction. What also makes Ingress more AR themed then even Pokémon Go is that it makes players go more adventurous by having portals located in popular landmark areas—museums, public art, monuments and so forth—which broadens the horizons of players who might not ever visit some locations. Ingress has a really cool spy themed story and while it’s not as popular as the titles above, we do recommend trying it out to see what AR can do in a more realistic sense.

What is the Niantic Project? (Official Trailer)

4. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite

  • System/Platform: iOS, Android
  • Publisher: Niantic, Warner Brothers Games
  • Developer: Niantic, Portkey Games
  • Release Dates: 2018

We wrap up our What is AR article with one final example of a new game soon to be released from the AR focused development team Niantic yet again. Just like Pokémon, this franchise that Niantic is taking control of for their upcoming AR game should be well known to most readers out there as it too has had some popularity but more so in the book world. That’s right folks, as if the title above didn’t spoil it already we are going to be talking about Harry Potter: Wizards Unite which from the description, sounds like the AR game we’ve been waiting for. Yes, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite might finally allow us to feel like witches and wizards and that truly excites us.

Similar to other AR games, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite will have a focus on exploring your real-world environments to play the game itself. However, thanks to the Harry Potter focus, this AR game will have players fighting Dementors and other threats that appear in augmented reality as well as collect wizarding items and artifacts. We don’t know when Harry Potter: Wizards Unite will be released exactly, but we do know a 2018-year release is most likely so that means we won’t have to wait too long to become the masters of magic we always wanted to be. What spells can we use and how will multiplayer be integrated in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite? We don’t know fully but all we can say is to keep your eyes glued to your app stores for when Harry Potter: Wizards Unite drops soon.

Final Thoughts

If you watch anime—and we’ll assume many of you do since our site is all about anime for the most part—you might have seen the Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale movie and saw a possible future when it comes to AR or Augmented Reality. We pray that, one day, AR becomes this advanced but for now, AR allows a freedom that not many games truly allow. Plus, thanks to the AR themes, a lot of gamers are getting up out of their comfy sofas and chairs to explore the beautiful outside world—safely we hope—which is a truly remarkable thing. Have you played any AR games that we mentioned or didn’t mention? Tell us in the comments below! We hope your gaming dictionary grew today and if you need more articles like this one, there are plenty waiting for you here at Honey’s Anime.

078 What is AR? [Gaming Definition, Meaning]


Author: Aaron

Hey everyone I’m Aaron Curbelo or Blade as I’m called by my YouTube Subscribers. I’ve been an anime/manga fan since I was a young kid. In terms of anime I have watched nearly a thousand shows and have read hundreds of manga series. I love writing and honestly was so happy to join Honey’s Anime to get a shot to write articles for such a wonderful site. I’m a firm believer in respect in the anime community being the most important embodiment we should all have. We all love anime and we have varying opinions of series but we should respect one another for those differences! Life is too precious to spend it making needless arguments in a community that should be the shining example of loving an amazing medium. I hope as a writer for Honey’s Anime I can bring you folks some amazing articles to read and enjoy!

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