What is Pokemon Go?
Pokemon Go is a mobile game that was just released here in the United States this past week. I had been aware of this game for quite some time, and I have been pining to play it ever since I signed up for the beta program months ago. I was immediately attracted to the concept because of the fact that it sounded innovative and was based around an IP that I have loved since childhood. The use of augmented reality in an IP such as this is so perfect that it is almost the perfect storm in terms of mixing user experience and modern technology together to create a successful product. Why wouldn’t this concept be anything short of amazing?
Becoming a Pokemon Master
I have spent the last five days of my life (give or take a few hours to feed my kids and take some power naps) playing this game, and I am blown away. While I believe that the design of the game is great in some aspects and not so great in others, the fact that it got me to walk 15 miles (is it normal if I can’t feel my legs anymore?) over a weekend, and opened the door for me to interact with complete strangers, is absolutely amazing and surprising. I knew this game was going to be fun, but I had no clue that it was going to motivate me to run around in 100-degree heat and explore the literal world around me. I am quite literally playing out my childhood dream of becoming a Pokemon Master.
I met a friend of mine for lunch the other day, and after eating we were trying to think of something fun to do around town. We decided to roam around downtown looking for Pokemon to catch. We put an hour on our parking meter and started walking. As we were walking, we would end up talking with other players that we saw were playing the game as well. The obvious sign of people walking around with their phones directly in front of their face was humorous to say the least. We explored the city for nearly three hours, and I almost caught a parking ticket on top of all of the Pokemon that I caught. I discovered some restaurants that I will end up taking my wife to, and I met a few people that invited me to a Pokemon meet-up in downtown next week that apparently nearly a thousand people will be attending.
Social and Mental Health Go!
Pokemon Go is an amazingly innovative way to get people up and moving and to facilitate socialization. As I was writing this blog post, my wife shoved her phone in my face and told me that a Jigglypuff just appeared on her list of nearby Pokemon, and I need to go find it for her. I slipped my shoes on and went exploring around my neighborhood trying to find it at 11:30pm. I met three people that were walking around trying to find it as well, and we ended up exploring together for the next thirty minutes. Is this real life?
In the last five days of my life, I have met several new people some of which I will probably end up talking to again at some point, I have discovered new places in Orlando such as restaurants and stores that did or will receive business from me in the future, and I got a lot of exercise. I am literally in awe at the series of events that Pokemon Go has set in motion. We should all take a lesson from this and start to look deeper at games, in particular, and how they can be leveraged to better humanity because I believe we are just scratching the surface of what is possible.