You know those incredibly frustrating people walking around on the streets and into traffic and over cliffs and right smack dab on top of your newly-polished dress shoes because they’re too busy playing Pokémon GO?
I have a confession to make.
I am one of those incredibly frustrating people playing Pokémon GO.
I apologize if I ever trampled over your dog in my haste to catch an Arcanine. It was (probably) an accident, unless you just happened to be in my way while a Squirtle is loose nearby and a mad, mob-mentality stampede that would make any Black Friday vet proud seized hold of me. Then it was probably deliberate. But I realize that being part of a cult(ural phenomenon) doesn’t make me any less of a Poké-jerk, so please excuse my trangresses…
There are many downsides to living in a college neighborhood. Blasting music at 3 in the morning, piss-drunk but holier-than-thou undergrads whom you hope to never see in your classes, zero parking…
But there are also upsides, one of which is that when geeky pastimes hit home, they hit hard. For the past 7 days or so, seriously over half of the people walking around campus are fueling up at Pokéstops, catching Pokémon, talking about Pokémon, dreaming Pokémon. We shuffle casually up to spots where those glorious purple lure modules have taken over our AR screens, grinning sheepishly around at the other folks around us who have stationed themselves on the same block as we swipe our fingers upward in an all-too familiar motion, swiping in harmony with every other index finger in a 30-foot radius, warmed by the knowledge that we are all part of the same cultural moment–that even though we are strangers, we are a community, too.
It’s easy to make fun of Poke-players as geeky eccentrics or even fanatics, but there is also something strangely democratizing about the game that should not be ignored, even at this early stage of the craze. Asked what he liked best about Pokemon GO, one of my friends said: “You can walk down a crowded pier and half of the people there are playing the same game, they’re out there walking around and they come in all sizes and shapes and ages.” If you haven’t played or simply don’t buy into the idea of global video game obsessions, you might think that we’re a crazy bunch, but one of the things I love about this game is that its players are–by and large–incredibly self-aware. Do we know that we look silly walking around with our phones out and chasing after virtual creatures in an augmented reality world? Sure we do. Do we care? Not really.
Just a few days ago, I met a couple that had driven from over an hour away to come to our college town and play. “More cell phone traffic = more Pokemon,” they told me, laughing as they caught a Machop that was apparently sitting on my left shoulder. On the pier this weekend, two restaurant hosts and I chatted merrily about how the influx of traffic meant that they had access to a non-stop flow of Pokémon all shift long. And I learned that every single one of my Uber drivers this week were also PokéTrainers, just like me.
I made connections this week that I never thought I would make, and I’m so thrilled that those came about courtesy of a game like Pokémon GO Just as long as you’re not this dad, you should definitely give it a–well–go!
Speaking of connections, I recently reconnected with a former manager of mine and we got to chat about all the wonderful things that she (and the team) have been up to since I left. I also brought a round dozen of these strawberries ‘n cream cookies to share because they love strawberries, and I simply couldn’t resist decking them out with a creamy cheesecake dollop + fresh strawberries. The cookies themselves start with a perfectly chewy-middled, crispy-edged sugar cookie dough base with white chocolate and flecks of fresh strawberry folded in for good measure. If you’re not into games, these could be the connection you’ve been looking for!
What do you think about the Pokémon GO phenomenon?