Pokémon Go has taken over. Not just in my house, but everywhere. It is the new rage and grandparents like many of us may want to embrace it.
It seems to have came in like a giant wave. There was nothing. Then, in an instant, it was all consuming.
What is Pokémon Go?
Here is what wikipedia.org has to say: It is a free-to-play location-based augmented reality mobile game developed by Niantic and published by The Pokémon Company as part of the Pokémon franchise. It was released in July 2016 for iOS and Android devices.
Let me translate that for you. It’s a video game.
I first heard about the phenomenon nearly a week ago while watching the news. While I did not know exactly what they were talking about, I did hear that people were being baited into becoming victims.
The initial report had a pack of kids walking around. I did not understand it. I do now.
The victim part has to do with certain thieves allegedly hacking the system and luring players into places where it became easy to mug them. It’s believed to be a single event. Reports about the hacking are not confirmed.
In reality, while the risk is there, it is at best, only slight. Warn the kids of the risks and the need to be aware of their surroundings. Then let them have some fun.
The Game Is Exactly That
A game. Using a Smartphone and it’s GPS technology, users follow directions from the phone to locate creatures known as Pokémon. There are things to collect, battles to be waged, and creatures to capture. All are an exciting and challenging way to pass the day.
Why Embrace It?
If your family is anything like mine, you find kids of all ages with phones, iPads, tablets and laptops, endlessly setting alone, playing games. Often they are simply watching videos on YouTube.
I saw a stat recently. There are more hours spent watching videos online then there are hours spent watching television.
The best part of Pokémon Go is seeing kids going out to play. When I, and probably most of you reading this were kids, we spent endless days roaming the neighborhood involved in all types of activity. It did not matter if it was summer or winter, if we were not in school, we found ourselves outdoors.
I noted in a Facebook post that one father had found a way for his children to come along when walking the dog. Something that did not happen before Pokémon Go.
Pokémon Go is doing parents a favor.
The game company has found a fun, safe, way for kids consumed with their devices to get outdoors, walk, exercise, and have fun. All done using the very device that until July 6th, had them tucked away in their rooms.
Our grandchildren don’t visit nearly as much as we would like. Over the past couple of years, we have found that when they do come, they want only to play games online.
I suppose we have aided and abetted the activity by providing Xbox’s, video games and really fast Wi-Fi. We are grandparents and that’s what we do.
Summer Vacation At Grandma’s House
Last week, a couple of teenagers showed up to spend fourteen days with us. With great expectations, their company was long awaited. We had been advised by their mother to collect all devices at night.
An action to assure they actually go to bed.
We have managed, even without following the advice of our daughter.
A couple of days ago one of the girls came out of her room asking if she could go for a walk. With the assurance she would not get lost, we nodded and she headed out.
Thirty minutes later she came back laughing with excitement. She had been chasing Pokémon. Her first adventure into the new, outdoor game.
It’s fun. So I am told.
From my perspective, it’s great only because it’s better than the seemingly lonely hibernation to the bedroom for what the kids call fun.
Part of the game design involves walking longer distances. There are rewards built into the game. They occur as the GPS in the phone detects you have traveled a specific distance. The rewards granted involve an increase in eggs.
There Is A Method To It
If the player walks further, more eggs hatch, releasing new Pokémon. With more Pokémon available to hunt, locate, and capture, the game continues. Our children get more exercise. It is he intended benefit of playing a video game outdoors.
It’s not just kids.
I heard one report from New York that had more than children playing the game. One business has found a way to monetize the activity. Because of the players moving about hunting Pokémon, he is selling 75% more pizza.
I heard a report that merchants in some cities are finding heavier foot traffic due to players getting out and about. Some players report finding businesses they never knew existed. Found, only because they started walking.
The game designers have formed a way to get players to visit the gym. It’s not that gym. No, it’s a place where advanced players assemble to wage war against each other to gain points and enhance their power. It’s all just a game.
It’s a good game and the kids love it. I’m a grandfather and I love seeing my grandkids outside doing something. Even if that something is playing a video game.
Want Some Stats?
- Pokémon has been downloaded 7.5 million times in the first eight days.
- Pokémon is approaching the daily use number of Twitter
- Daily usage of Pokémon is now greater than Instagram
There is a downside
Some players are reporting game fatigue. While it is fun, it does not deliver the long term experience of platform games like those found with XBox or PlayStation.
The battery life of a cell phone will be challenged. The constant updates via GPS and continued camera mode will drain most batteries quickly. One article listed battery usage nearing 50% while a continuing screen view of Instagram may only use 5% of battery power.
Similar usage for Facebook takes about 4% of a Smartphone’s battery life.
Another complaint is the system crashes. Remember, this is a free game. The wild acceptance and insane downloads exceeded the expectations of the game makers. It is the unintended consequences of success.
Here Is What All The Fuss Is About
Pokémon is a real phenomenon. As grandparents, I think it wise to embrace it. Send your grandkids out to enjoy the outdoors, get some exercise, and still use their phone.
I am not suggesting that we actually grab our cellphone and head out to collect Pokémon, their pals, or nurse eggs until they hatch, but it’s a good thing to know what the kids are doing.
Have a question or comment? Let me know in the comments section below. I would enjoy talking with you.