I learned about this phenomenon a few days ago. My friend’s husband is apparently obsessed with this game and has left the house on several missions to play Pokemon Go. Since then, I’ve seen a few more friends post about their gaming experiences from here in Canada all the way to California. On our way home from Costco yesterday, I saw a guy in a suit next to a guy in shorts holding up their phones near the local fire station pointing around. It looked like a game in progress during their lunch breaks.
I remember learning about Pokemon (shortened form of “pocket monsters”) when I was still in teachers’ college. My third-graders told me about Ash, Pikachu, and all those cute little characters. I instantly had a favourite, Squirtle (a turtle-like creature).
Pokemon Go was released last week to Android and iPhone users. It is not officially available in Canada yet, but serious players have managed to do a work around and downloaded it nonetheless. Hence, the teens and guys in suits walking around holding up their phones at noon. Pokemon Go uses GPS technology to help create an augmented reality world where you can “see” Pokemon on your phone and capture them in real time. You can grab them with a swipe. You can battle other players by taking over gyms in the area. As of Monday, over 7 million people have downloaded this free game. (I can’t play because of my beloved Blackberry, but that will change soon as I received a notice that Whatsapp will no longer work on my precious BB. I’m in too many chats to lose Whatsapp so I will be upgrading my phone. Hip Teacher Dada says, “It’s about time.”)
The concept is pretty cool to me. If you walk in a forest location, you’ll find grass or bug types of Pokemon. If you are looking closer to water, it is more likely you’ll come across a water Pokemon. I’m sure people who grew up with Pokemon (those younger than 25 will probably not know what this is) find this game comforting and overwhelmed with a sense of nostalgia. I know I got a sense of that when I started to read about this new game. (Oddly enough, last week when we went to Canada’s Wonderland, we noticed that they had Pokemon as prizes! I thought that was odd, but I was out of the loop! They must’ve anticipated the Go release and now more games are being played there too?)
There have been some negative experiences with Pokemon Go in the United States. People have been robbed because their geolocation was anticipated by strangers. They were in a dark isolated area and it seemed like the perfect target. Other people have been injured because they were so busy looking at their screen and not at the lamppost ahead of them. Parents and teachers on Facebook have varied opinions on this game. Summer school teachers are having more trouble than ever asking students to put their phones away. Some parents like the idea of their kids actually moving around rather than gaming in their family rooms. This game reminds me of geocaching which has been a recent phenomenon for school excursions. Developing navigational skills seems pretty important. I think it’s a great game to bring into the classroom, however, the amount of area needed to find Pokemon may be bigger than a regular school Wifi span can cover. People have also said that mobile usage and battery power has become an issue with this activity.
Once this becomes available in Canada, I’d be interested in trying it out as a family. We do after-dinner walks or park visits anyway so why not grab a Pokemon or two? It’s in my competitive nature to want to catch them all.
Have you played Pokemon Go? What do you think?