22 July 2016
Pokémon GO! is the latest craze to sweep the world of mobile gaming apps, but its main features may have first come together in a game developed at the University of Dundee. The Pokémon game combines the concepts of location-awareness (the game knows where the player in the world) and augmented reality (blending the live images from the mobile phone's camera with creatures created by the app itself) to give the player the feeling that their phone can be used a detector to find the virtual creatures in the real world and "catch" them.
The same two concepts were used in a game called "Shade Hunter" which was developed back in 2010 by Dundee student Calum McMinn as part of his final year Computing project. In his game, players were able to detect and shoot Shades - virtual monsters which appeared to be hiding around the University campus, and cleverly blended with the live camera images by his software. Although other games had used location or augmented reality before, Shade Hunter may have been the first to combine them both in the same app. The game was so novel at the time that it inspired one of the other Computing students to create an advertising video to promote it to other students. Now the same ideas have been taken up by Niantic, the creators of Pokémon GO!
Calum said "I think it's unlikely that Shade Hunter influenced the design of Pokémon GO in any way, but the developers were definitely following a similar train of thought to myself when they created it." Calum still lives in Dundee, where he works as a programmer for games developers Ninja Kiwi creators of Bloons and other games.
Nowadays Computing at the University of Dundee plays a vital role in addressing real world problems. Work in these fields often involves enriching interdisciplinary collaboration with students and researchers from areas such as biomedical and clinical sciences, creative arts and the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID).
Many of our alumni go on to pioneer in the video game industry such as Grand Theft Auto’s Art Director Aaron Garbut, who graduated from DJCAD and Chris Van Der Kuyl, one of Scotland's leading entrepreneurs, who helped develop Minecraft for use on Microsoft Xbox 360 through 4J Studios (Jam Jute Journalism and Joysticks) after transferring his Computer Science degree from Edinburgh to Dundee.
Find out more about studying Computing at the University of Dundee: http://www.dundee.ac.uk/study/ug/applied-computing/