Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the newest craze going around: Pokémon GO - and if you ARE hiding under a rock, I’m sure that soon enough someone will lift your rock in search of Charmander and fill you in, but I digress.
Pokémon GO has infiltrated every single corner of society over the last week to the point where going to grab coffee with my coworkers has become a search and capture mission to find the nearest and dearest Pokémon available. Now I’ll admit, I’ve never once interacted with any form of Pokémon. I never played the games growing up, I never watched the show or movies, and I have no plans to download the app, but it’s here, and it’s here to stay.
With such a large part of the world’s population (all of it?) so taken by this game, I figure we could put forth some of the unintended positive consequences of playing this pervasive game. Ready? Let’s go catch ‘em all, or whatever.
MEET ALL THE PEOPLE
Walking around in search of that elusive Mewtwo (see, I know Pokémon stuff), or challenging the Gym King at the gym, you’re bound to run into actual, physical human beings. Remember last week when we spoke about breaking the ice with strangers? This is the perfect opportunity to put those words into action. Nothing brings people together, or breaks the ice, quite like a shared experience, which is exactly what this is. I mean, come on, there is so much to talk about when closing in on Jigglypuff. Ok, maybe not, but it’s a very easy way to strike up a conversation with the person you’ve run into.
SEE THE UNSEEN
While traipsing around town in search of more pocket monsters (bet you didn’t know that’s what Pokémon stands for), take in your surroundings. Because Pokémon GO makes use of a city’s landmarks, and everyone and their mother is absolutely obsessed with this game, use it as an opportunity to get out and see your city a little bit. There has to be something in town that you haven’t seen or done yet. I mean, I’ve lived in New York City for three years and still haven’t been to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, The Empire State Building, or to see the New York Stock Exchange (I know. Please don’t shame me). I mean, who knows what awesome Pokémon are going to be hiding on the Empire State Building Observation Deck? Only one way to find out, right?
Here’s another idea: if crowded tourist spots aren’t your cup o’ tea, take the road less traveled. People will be flooding the landmarks around town looking for Pikachu while you’re hanging back, strolling in the flowered meadow. Not only are you enjoying a quiet nature walk, there’s also a chance you’ll find yourself a Bulbasaur (Look how cute he is) on your way!
Say what you want about how the game causes players to walk around like mindless drones with their noses in their phones, but one thing the game does is promote movement. If you collect an egg at a PokéStop, the only way to hatch it is to incubate it long enough for it to be ready to hatch. How do you incubate it? By walking, that’s how. Smartly, the game does not count driving in a car or riding a bike toward this distance. You actually have to get up off the couch and move those legs.
It’s not the most rigorous exercise regimen out there, but you know what? It’s a hell of a lot better than ALL other mobile apps where the name of the game is apparently “let’s sit on the couch and not move for hours”.
BE SAFE. BE SMART.
Ok, this isn’t an unintended benefit, but it shouldn’t go unsaid: with Pokémon hiding anywhere and everywhere, I implore you to exercise caution and good judgement when trying to “catch ‘em all”. Please.
Do not trespass onto private property, do not venture into unknown and potentially dangerous areas of town, and just try to exercise your normal levels of vigilance when walking around your city. Just because you’re playing a game doesn’t mean you can let your guard down. Be safe out there.
Until next time - watch where you’re going.