|Duck Pond: Kings Highway|
I downloaded Pokemon Go.
I didn't mean to do it, but I did.
Yesterday afternoon my 24-year old son and I had some errands to run and we started talking about the game while driving out to BPCC to get him registered for his last semester there. He collected the cards when he was a little kid although I don't think he ever really played the game. We just liked collecting them and looking at the pictures...finding "rare" cards, that kind of thing.
The phenomenon of this game has just been amazing and so he went ahead and downloaded it while we talked. Once on campus, he engaged the game and caught a couple of Pokemon.
Our next stop was the dentist and while he was with the doctor I downloaded the game...I was just sitting in the waiting room and thought, "Well, why not. Let's see what all the fuss is about...".
And there you have it.
The game, as you know by now, is designed to get pasty, puffy kids off the couch and out into the sunshine. They have to walk to play the game -- you can't do it while driving. You can get from one Pokestop to another while driving, but just collecting Pokemon, or hatching eggs, you have to walk.
Pokestops are GPS landmarks or sites in your city or neighborhood. From the dentist office yesterday, for example, the game identified several nearby Pokestops, like the giant strawberry on the back of Strawns Eat Shop, the Dental Arts building by George's, the Centenary gold dome and soccer field, and several on Centenary campus.
The lure is this: once you're at the Gold Dome for example, well the soccer field is right there, just a few yards away, and Strawn's is right there, across the street, and Centenary, is right there, right across the street!
It's easy to find yourself a fair distance from where you began.
|Photo courtesy of KSLA|
We walked the Centenary campus -- first time my son had ever been on campus -- and looked at the Jack London bust, the band shell, the memorial garden and other various sites. It was beautiful and interesting. While walking down a shaded asphalt drive, the boys' soccer team returning from practice came up the hill, red-faced, hot, laughing, with gear strung over their shoulders.
"Y'all looking for Pokemon?!" one boy asked. We exchanged pleasantries with them then went on our way. It was nice.
Okay so it's a dumb game.
But look, after a week of watching BLM protests and listening to hate filled rhetoric all over the news and social media, I kind of needed a dumb game yesterday.
We went to the duck pond on Kings Highway and it was there that I saw the social impact of this dumb game. There were dozens, maybe a hundred, people there. The usual moms with little kids were there, but now I saw clusters of teenagers and college kids, adults in their twenties, thirties, staring at phone screens but also talking to each other. One cluster would join another cluster and off they would go.
We sat under the pavilion with our phones and just listened to the conversations around us. Everyone was talking about the game: where they found certain Pokemon, something funny that happened while searching, some cool landmark they had seen, different game strategies. More adept players were explaining strategies to newbies. People were interacting.
That should not seem like such a weird phenomena but in today's world, it sort of was.
I could hear one guy talking about all the people around and how cool it was; "The only way the duck pond could get better today is if they had a power source out here -- my battery is dying!" His friends laughed and they all looked around at all the people in amazement.
Couples walked by staring at phones. Small groups. Individuals. Some people looked very serious, others sheepish. Everyone was having fun.
One twenty-something guy sitting on a plastic whale looked up and said, "This game is bringing world peace!" I'm not sure about that, but I knew what he meant. There was a cool, fun, vibe there. People were meeting each other, bonded through a common thing, talking to each other, walking around in the fresh air, enjoying life.
At one point the game prompted me to choose a "team" - I said to my son, "It's asking me what team to join - what do I do?!" Some guy walking past me said, "Team blue - choose team blue." So I did. He gave me a high five.
There are a lot of stories out there about how dangerous and stupid this game is, and it may be. But for that moment, it was really cool. It's going to be important for people not to mess it up, though; stay off of private property -- you don't have to do that to play. Don't try to play while driving -- there's no point. Pay attention to your surroundings all the time -- don't walk across parking lots staring at your phone (whether you're playing Pokemon or not, ever!) and don't go into dark places at night. No need to. As with anything in the world, ever, use common sense; I know that's in short supply lately, but use common sense.
Is it going to bring world peace? Nah. Will it get kids outside? Yep. The novelty will fade and in a few weeks it will probably not be such a thing, but for now, it's pretty cool to see people doing this.
Before you denounce it as stupid, give it a try. You might find yourself having fun!
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Pokemon for Progress (KSLA)
What is Pokemon Go and Why is Everyone Playing It? (Slate)
Pokemon Go Tips and Tricks (TechInsider)
Everything You Wanted to Know About Pokemon Go but were Afraid to Ask (CNN)
Pokemon Go App Sends ArkLaTex into a Frenzy (KSLA)
34 Essential Tips for Pokemon Go