Monday, July 11, 2016

Pokemon Go Away!

This is no way a political blog, and quite frankly, I unfriend most of my acquaintances on Facebook who have crazy fringe beliefs, but looking through my feed over the last week, the three biggest topics were

#3 - Hillary Clinton.  Makes sense, regardless of your personal opinion on the matter. 
#2-  Every single shooting that made the news last week... COMBINED.

#1 - Freakin' Pokémon Go.

The short, short version of this phenomena, by my skewed understanding?

Pokémon Go is a game app you can download to your phone.  You are a Pokémon trainer who seeks out these adorable Japanese creatures to train (and I hope ultimately put in brutal death matches).    While some of the Nintendo games had multi-player interaction capabilities, this is game has the Pokémon existing in real-time around the real world. 

Seriously, there could be a Charmander sitting right next you, right now (electronically of course) and you wouldn't know it unless you downloaded the app right now!!!!   These critters could be around the corner, in the local supermarket, or in a nearby park.   Your little character avatar doesn't travel that location to capture it in-game, you yourself, must physically travel to that location to capture it. 

And guess what?  All the other Pokémon players know it's there too.  And if news reports and social media are correct, they're coming to get it RIGHT NOW!   Catch 'em all, post-haste!

Even with talking to a few casual players (one who realized she was sitting on one in her booth at Ruby Tuesday over the weekend) I'm not sure as to the actual mechanics of capturing these little buggers, but the game has swept a sizable percentage of the population  

I get it, I get it.  It's not a sedentary activity.  Parents are praising the game for getting their kids off the couch and going outside, although I have had confirmed reports of random kids knocking on strangers' doors to ask permission to capture the Pokémon in their backyard.  It's a social activity, to boot, as friends join forces to search for the creatures. 

I work in a downtown location, right on the town square, and the true reality of Pokemon was apparent as I took a walk across the square to grab a coffee.

Between the paving operations going on, and the usual characters we've nicknamed "Squarians" it's an adventure out there to begin with.  Today, I nearly got run over by a kid flying down the sidewalk on his skateboard, fully engrossed on his cellphone.   Then I looked around and noticed packs of people wandering across the grass of the square, eyes locked onto the screens.  Like extras on the Walking Dead, they would stop, suddenly change directions, and shamble on until they reached their destinations.  Upon further inspection, I realized that there were about three dozen of these glassy-eyed individuals roaming the center of the square, with at least another dozen stumbling around the outer sidewalks.  Can't wait to see how this new phenomenon works when the Farmer's Market comes to town on Thursday, with a few hundred other people in attendance.

Perhaps the best definition I've come across is randomly generated geo-caching.   Except if this many people were actually geo-caching, we'd a huge increase in emergency calls as these people wandered the edges of the wilderness. 

It's not that I don't understand Pokémon.   I've been forced to deal with the American side of this media juggernaut from the first day some piece of merchandise hit our shores, and I dealt with the early days of the Pokémon Collectible Card Game.  Sure, money was made at the time, but I defaulted to retail child care or parental therapist and that sucked out a piece of my soul I will never get back.  You can't be a drug dealer and have a conscience.

And I understand the fun and addiction of game apps.  I've had a thorough interest in Mafia and Farm-style games on Facebook.  I may have crushed some candy in my day (The Frozen version was more fun, in my opinion).  I still have a Civilization-style game on my phone that does not have the Governator in a poorly fitting military uniform, or an open display of Kate Upton's boobs.   Heck I still have NCAA Football on my phone, from 2010 (Tebow's on the opening page). 

The tin-foil hat conspiracy theorists are always claiming that media tells us what's important.   After seeing the news feeds over the last few days, I'm happy my wife picked up a new roll, because I may need to make my own metal chapeau.  This is a herd mentality that could be used for good (put in polling places in November) or neutral (yay, capitalism), the sheer scope of this craze and the possibility for nefarious purposes (or mass stupidity) is there, but even worse, I see this as an easy way to make the world far more apathetic than I could possibly imagine before this past weekend.

Whether it's cops killing people, people killing cops, countries wishing to wreck economic unity, civil war (or the Zika virus) spreading like a plague around the world, everything takes a backseat to finding a Wartotle outside a public library... or at the corner of a drug house.

Thank God we've always been at war with Eurasia....

If this doesn't calm down, I'm going rent a Pikachu costume and dance across Public Square.  Either the players will be so engrossed in their phones that they'll ignore me, proving my worries,  or they will become incensed that there's a Pokémon that's not coming up on their screen.    Hopefully the penalty for inciting a riot isn't too bad.

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