Tuesday, 16 October 2018
Englishman in Dubrovnik Englishman in Dubrovnik

Pokémon has gone right over my head

By  Aug 14, 2016

OK, I am going to be honest this took a little more research than normal. This is not a subject that I at home with, far from it. Although it appears that I could be the last one on the planet to be still in the dark. It is a location-based augmented reality game, yes that means nothing to me as well, and it’s called Pokémon, well Pokémon Go to be precise.

I guess that I am probably speaking to only half of the population, the half that have this game already installed on their smart phones. I have read quite a bit, and I still really don’t get it, I mean I get it but I don’t understand why it is so addictive. You walk around with your smart phones looking for these virtual Pokemons and then “catch” them. Why you want to hunt them and what you do with them when you have caught them stills remains a mystery to me.

I guess it’s a trend, a phase. I am ancient enough to remember the first basic video games. And again I am probably speaking to only half of the population, those games where two block paddles would slide up and down the screen trying to hit an equally blocky ball. I can’t remember the name, but it was like an electronic tennis game, a far distance away from hunting virtual Pokémon all over the world.

The next phase I remember was the Rubik Cube, blimey I am ancient. I am not even going to start explaining that one as anyone younger than forty will probably just make fun of me. Then came a whole array of video games, better consoles, smart phones, technology is moving much too fast for me.

“Oh, I don’t believe it, you have three Pokemon close,” screamed the young boy as he waved his iPhone around in my wife’s hair salon. “Where are they,” replied my wife spinning around. Obviously I am not the only person in the Thomas household that doesn’t understand this new fad. “No, they are virtual and I am trying to catch them,” screamed the boy. “Good luck,” said my wife still unaware of what the hell he was talking about.

I guess on the positive side in order to play the game you have to at least be outside and walking around in the fresh air, makes a change that a computer game doesn’t mean you being hunched up peering into a screen for hours on end. So finally the game makers found a way for the younger generations to get some exercise whilst playing. Pokémania, as this new social media phenomenon is tagged, has more upsides. Churches, national parks, businesses, museums all over the world have seen a rise in the number of visitors due to the fact that a Pokémon was located on their premises. One church in the US had planned on banning Pokémon from their premises, but when they saw, and I quote, the “huge number of people coming through the doors,” they soon changed their minds. I wonder if the Pope approves of Pokémon.

However on the flip side there have also been some rather dangerous moments with people putting their life’s at risk to catch that rare Pokémon. There was a case in the US when a teenager broke into a house to catch a Pokémon and was shot by the owner who thought he was a burglar. And then the driver in Mexico who was so concentrated on his smart phone whilst driving and searching for his prize Pokémon that he managed to slam straight into a police car.

The Russians have declared that the game is demonic and that they “suspect foreign intelligence agencies are using the application to collect information.” Egypt has banned it, Kuwait banned the game from government sites, Indonesian officials deemed it a national security threat and North Korea...well North Korea is considering banning electronic tennis!!

Banned or not banned there are approximately 100 million people who have downloaded the game, or in other words around 23 times the population of Croatia are Pokémon mad.

When you look a little deeper it isn’t so surprising that the game got launched. It was developed by the man who dreamt up Google Maps, John Hanke, who then sold the idea to Google and then founded Niantic the company that invented Pokémon Go. So he put his maps idea together with a game and bingo, he won the lottery.

One joke going around on the social media is a remark that a man made to his girlfriend, and this shows the depth the game has gone into society, “You look really beautiful, like a rare Pokémon!” However I am not sure whether his attempted compliment worked, or if it was met with the same face my wife pulled when she discovered she had Pokémon bouncing around her salon!

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