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NYFA Game Design Instructor Creative Director of Niantic's Pokémon Go

NYFA Game Design Instructor Creative Director of Niantic's "Pokémon Go"

August 26, 2016 With Pokémon Go now one of the most talked about games in the industry, the New York Film Academy Los Angeles Game Design program hosted its first ever Pokémon Go hunt. Nearly 100 students, faculty, and fans joined in on the hunt with NYFA Game Design instructor John Zuur Platten, who is Creative Director at Niantic, the game developer behind the popular game.

After catching a variety of Pokémon and even a few "gym battles," the event moved inside for an industry meet and greet, and an open forum with Mr. Platten. His talk broke down the ins and outs of working as Creative Director of Niantic.

A good portion of the talk focused on Niantic's breakout game, Ingress, which shares many similarities to Pokémon Go — but instead of three teams, there are two: The Enlightened and The Resistance. Each team is trying to own portals that pop up all over the world. The Resistance wants to keep whatever's trying to come through the portal out of their world. The Enlightened believe there's something to be gained from whatever's trying to come through.

There's no violence within the game and, like Pokémon Go, the players don't have to interact with one another to play. In fact, many fans of Ingress don't even play the game. Instead they head online, where Niantic has created a wide series of gaming extras. This includes YouTube videos, comics, and short stories that tell additional parts of the story. This media is often in the form of cryptic mysteries that participants can solve, netting their team extra points.

Like Pokémon Go, Ingress has lots of fanatics. People make flags, costumes, and pins with the team's sigils and show up for mass real-world meet ups. Fans also have a civil service side; many have seen encouraging memes asking players to drop lures outside of children's hospitals so that the very ill can play.

The latter portion of Platten's talk became a bit inspirational. Platten recalled a story where a famous Ingress player in need of a wheelchair received one through community donations and support. He also recalled a story of an autistic teen who was barely able to leave his room until Pokémon Go was released. That teen's mother said she felt as if she had gotten part of her son back. "That's a pretty great magic trip," Platten remarked.

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