Pokémon GO is changing our civilization and I love it. The game itself is slightly amusing at best, but addictive in the same vein as Angry Birds. Simple enough to get started, but challenging enough to continue playing. Themes always help entertainment mediums grow – Disney being a great example.
An overview of the game (in case you’ve been vacationing in an underground bunker for the past week or so) can be found on Wikipedia. In summary, it is an augmented reality game that makes use of your mobile phone’s camera to give you the illusion of capturing digital creatures in your everyday surroundings. It uses GPS to make this a constantly varying activity with points of interaction and competition called “Poké Stops” and “gyms”.
So what makes Pokémon GO different? As readers will have noticed in the past, I am a believer that data is useless without people. It takes a human element to interpret and fully utilize technology of any kind. Pokemon GO builds the human element. The gyms and Poké Stops require a physical human presence. This is part of the design. What is likely far beyond the design intent is the relationships that it has created around and through our mobile devices.
Spies like us
We’ve seen for years the trend towards mobile device use in public. We walk around eyes to the screen, texting, tweeting, snap chatting – all with someone connected via a virtual tether. Here’s what is different: when is the last time you stopped a stranger at the park and read your text message out loud? Told them of your next Facebook post? Yet I’ve seen and personally experienced intelligence sharing on par with the Rebel Alliance to capture digital critters.
People talk to each other. When email and video chat first became popular it opened communication dramatically across the world. Mobile devices were different – they had the same tools but really allowed you to ONLY talk to the people with whom you’d established relationships. You could filter out casual social contact. Honestly, I’m not objecting to this most of the time. You feel more connected to your existing network. What is lost (and regained via Pokémon) is interaction on a casual basis with other humans.
Data is about people. Technology is for people. Pokémon is serving as a brilliant reminder of those facts to our rather isolationist society. I hope it continues.
Article Copyright ©2016 Bright Beach Consulting