“I’ve been waiting, like, my whole life for this!”
This is what my 11-year-old son announced when he found out the new game, Pokémon GO ™, was available. If you’ve been paying attention to popular culture in the past few days, you’ve likely heard about the game. It is taking the world by storm. Released last Wednesday, Pokémon GO ™ is now the most downloaded app on both iOS and Android devices in the United States. It is an interactive game that uses a phone’s GPS and camera via “augmented reality.” A view of the real world overlaid with graphical components. Pocket monsters from the popular 90’s t.v. shows, movies and card game are hiding in neighborhoods and it is your job to “catch ‘em all.”
This weekend groups of teenagers and adults could be found around downtown Rochester playing the game. The bike-driven taxi service, Smart Ride Ecotaxi, carted around eager monster hunters from landmark to landmark, which serve as key locations in the game.
Parents have found video games to be a challenge since they were invented. It has been argued that children have been turning into zombies who sit at t.v., computer, and now phone screens playing popular games for hours on end. Now technology and gaming have reached a compromise between the demands of their primary customers and parents. A video game that involves being outside and exercising.
Game Gives Parents Hope
If you have a preteen in your home, you’ll understand how difficult it can be to get them outside. But now, this will hopefully be a more common conversation in our home:
Children and teens who are outside and interacting with their environment are also reporting improvements in their mental health. They are interacting with strangers, exploring their cities, and having fun. Could this be the solution to childhood health issues such as, obesity, depression, or anxiety? If the stories I’ve been hearing all over the internet are true, this may just be.
What I do know for sure is that Pokémon GO ™ is a big hit for our family. My husband and son took a long walk last night catching Pokémon. I cut across the plaza downtown this morning and I could see kids on bikes (YES!), walking and sitting on the stone steps, all playing the game. It made me smile. Silly as it may be, I hope this is the future of gaming!