Pokemon Go is not new technology, its based upon Ingress which uses google maps landmarks to create a fun reality that layers on top of the landscape of life. In fact, the idea is not that different from Geo-caching which has been around for a LONG time.
What PokemonGo has done is hit all the right notes at the right time.
-Classic Fandom that has been around for 20years
-A pre-written motif to “Collect” & “Catch” them all
-The fact that it is the Age of the Geek, most adults who complain about the overuse of technology unashamedly own smartphones and use facebook….
-A year that has been…rough….2016
Let’s be clear, millennials and young people have grown up in an age where getting to know your neighbors is a rarity.
Its not because we (because I’m a millennial) are addicted to technology and antisocial–its because we are a displaced generation, overworked and farther away from home than any of our parents were…this means that technology has been USEFUL for us….
Its not all sunshine and rainbows but through facebook my parents and in-laws see pics of their grandchildren (after all what else is fb for?), through cell phones I can call my best friends in Seattle, NYC and Alabama without crazy charges pretty much whenever I want, through meetups I hold a weekly playgroup that has touched at least 300bfamilies, through twitter I can virtually attend many conferences and conversations about racism, community, church and technology, and through etsy I can find items that have my autistic son’s favorite character, through instagram I can take pics of what I am reading and hopefully find people with like interests…..
Technology makes manifest our longing to connect, giving us opportunities to find new ways to reach out. It was only a matter of time before technology would turn things on their head and actually succeed in bringing people physically together.
It brings people together in communal spaces, inviting them to talk and interact…and what is amazing is they do!
It would be easy to pooh-pooh the effects of a fad…but why not celebrate? Is this not what we hope the ultimate goal of technology to be? Isn’t it wonderful when people get together? (and yes, people are imperfectly using the technology, a handful of people have taken advantage of it and people need to remember to be SAFE on their cellphones–but you should see the hundreds of churches seeing positive effects of one game)
When things are tough, and community is hard to find, I see PokemonGo as the opposite of escapist, its creative. Its creating community in what has otherwise been a fairly lonely year of tragedy. As communities of queer,Latinx, African-Americans, police officers are effected, as Baghdad, the Middle East and France are attacked, as time is hard, PokemonGo is just what the Dr ordered.
So GO! Don’t capitalize or dismiss the game.
Enjoy it, live into whatever interactions it creates (whether you play or not)
and be excited for what it might mean for the future, because that future won’t come unless we dare to dream it.