The video game Pokemon Go made front-page news a few weeks back in this newspaper. Still growing in popularity, it also earned media attention from here to Boston and even Brussels. Millions of people now play a video game that actually requires you to leave your couch and go out into the real world. It encourages you to go somewhere besides home and to see and experiences new people and places.
Personally, I hope this version succeeds so wildly that it transforms the entire “virtual” world and disrupts the way we as humans interface with all things “internet” related.
I believe too many of us, like Pokemon in the game, have been “captured.”
Do you “chat” online with strangers for hours, but don’t know the neighbor next door? Are you deeply attached to following the Kardashians, updating “friends” on social media programs, and laughing at funny cat videos? So many are. There’s just no time to visit a sick “real world” friend or family member.
Ever seen a young couple on a date recently? Were they holding hands, or holding cell phones? Were they staring into each other’s eyes sharing conversation and making memories, or were they texting, posting, tweeting and Snapchatting?
Like many other parents, I let the virtual world of the original “Pokemon” babysit my son. The game seemed harmless, fun and kept him entertained. He knew every Pokemon by name, all 153. He even knew what they could “transform” into, what powers they had, and what it took to capture them!
But over time, the game nearly captured him. It took a massive effort to “free” him from the virtual world and bring his focus back to reality. Sadly, many other parents have shared similar stories with me.
So, I hope this new version of the game helps millions like my son “capture” not Pokemon, but a healthy balance with the real world. I hope it’s success leads to other games that cause an entire generation to re-connect with the real faces of family and friends, rekindle ties to our real community, and uses it’s “power” to “transform” our world for good. Is that possible? What do you think?