This week everyone, and I mean everyone, gave five-alarm hot takes about Pokémon Go. Some are saying it’s the greatest thing since Snapchat. Others are asking “what fresh hell is this?” All the while, I couldn’t help but laugh watching talented, serious, grown-ass people talking about a game I played sparingly as an 11-year-old.
So naturally, like almost every person on Earth, I downloaded the app and started playing. I walked out of my house like I was sleepwalking, and just kept going.
In the process, I learned that libraries still exist, visited a cemetery, and wandered past a strip club at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday. It turns out that they have a wonderful buffet.
The game gives you three initial Pokémon to choose from. I can tell you’re getting bored, but let me give you one detail: Don’t choose any of those three. Those aren’t the ones you want.
For some reason, reality got boring for young people, for a lot of us.
Let the three chase you, disappear, and reappear four times. After that Pikachu will appear. Pick Pikachu. Why? There’s no advantage. It’s just Pikachu. And you can’t hate that adorable creature.
Now, while I was playing hard to get with Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle, remember I was walking around in the real world. Imagine a 31-year-old man walking around in public, plain day, dodging things you can’t see. Yes. That was real life, and real hilarious if you were watching me.
Everyone by now has probably heard about Boon Sheridan, the guy whose house is now a Pokémon Go Gym. A gym is a place where players go to compete with other players and have their Pokemon fight, meaning people show up outside his house at all hours of the night.
To be fair, a lot of people playing Pokemon Go never go to an actual gym. They don’t just skip leg day, they never start. One of the great things about this game is that people are out, walking, meeting other people. It’s like the first warm day of the year when everyone stops hibernating, stops Netflix and Chilling and reappears.
I won’t lie. I saw people I thought had moved away or worse.
If your workplace has one of those step-counting competitions, you should be playing Pokémon Go. I’m not saying it’s a full-body workout, but it’s better than posting fitspiration while eating from the dollar menu.
The game has done more in eight days to get kids moving than Michelle Obama did in eight years. And that’s not the First Lady’s fault. For some reason, reality got boring for young people, for a lot of us. Reality moves slowly. So we had to augment it.
We’re augmenting everything. We don’t date, we use an app. We don’t order from a person, we use an app. We don’t drive, we order Uber rides – or soon, cars that drive themselves. It’s not all bad. I want to be able to sit in my car like our five-year-old, watch a movie and yell “are we there yet?”
Technology is great and convenient, but these innovations do cut down on human interaction. I’m well read. I read every Goosebumps book as a kid. Last week I read that women will have more sex with robots than humans by 2025. When I have the talk with our daughter, I will have to address robophilia.
Generations ago, people used to go bird watching. They would grab a camera, stand in the woods and just stare at birds. Pokémon Go is basically the same thing. You have a camera on your phone, you’re standing in the woods, and you’re trying to find an elusive species that may or may not exist.
Right now, no one knows if this has real staying power, or if it’s just a fad. But there are benefits. People are getting out more; it’s helping local businesses; Nintendo is once again wearing the championship belt.
The hype is deserved. I’m beyond excited to see a successful vehicle for augmented reality.
Benjamin Raven, who leads MLive’s statewide coverage of Pokemon Go said … wait. There’s already a reporter exclusively covering Pokemon Go? Yes. And I found him. “It’s weird how it’s taken over and demanded this much attention,” he told me. “When I got into journalism, I never imagined a situation where my editor would call me at 9 a.m. and say the words “I need you on this Pokémon thing”
Raven, who by night is part of the Court of Nerds added, “The weird thing about the game, is that cemeteries are an odd hotspot. Not exactly where I’d want to go hunting, but these people are so invested in this game that they’ll go anywhere. Hospitals and even a Holocaust Museum have come out and said ‘Please don’t search for Pokémon here.’ Which is a really weird sentence to even think about.”
The game is not without some issues or disclaimers. People are using it to lure people in to alleys and rob them. Right now a local news producer is putting that piece together: “What you don’t know about catching Pokémon, could kill you, at 11.”
My podcast co-host Eric Hultgren, shortly after we gave our own hot audio takes about Pokémon Go, left me the best 22-second voicemail of all time. He said, “Hey, it’s Eric. I just wanted to let you know that I saw a dune buggy driving north on US-131 pull over to the side of the road. And I guy got out and chased Pokémon into the woods. That’s a real story. Just happened on the ******** highway. Strange times. Strange times.”
Nothing is perfect. You won’t be able to stop people from playing it while driving. People still drive and text. I fear that someone will wander into the wrong backyard, the wrong anywhere and get hurt. But everything is common sense. And change happens.
The hype is deserved. I’m beyond excited to see a successful vehicle for augmented reality. Local pizza businesses are printing money. What a time to be alive.
This is abnormal, different, weird. The older I get the more I start feeling the urge to not embrace something, not try it. But I fight that because I don’t want to be the guy who tells someone to get off their lawn about anything.
So when you see someone playing Pokémon don’t tell them to get off your lawn. Unless they are actually on your lawn, in the middle of the night, chasing Pokémon. Then that’s OK.
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