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Pokemon Go Craze, At 38 I Get It

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Curiosity led me to realize that the Pokemon Go game represents technology coming full circle.

I’ve always been intrigued by anything powered by technology such as computers, smart phones and smart devices in general. It’s exciting to see tech re-invent how we do things, how we see things and how we learn things. Long gone are the days where you had to pull an encyclopedia book to research information on a country or civilization. Today, all you have to do is a simple google search on a computer or smart phone.

Along with the good there’s also the bad. Part of my childhood in the 80’s consisted of playing outside with my friends. Everything from football to baseball to riding bikes and skate boards all around our neighborhood. Time was our only worry back then.

NESThen the first Nintendo came out. My days of going outside to play were over. At least for the moment. I was now inside trying to “flip” Mario Brothers and every game I owned there after. Sound familiar? The socializing part of my childhood came back once my friends had Nintendo’s. We would get together and play each others games until we got bored and reverted back to going outside to play.

The thing about having a Nintendo is that it wasn’t very portable. You could lug your games around and go to your friends house but you couldn’t do anything until that game was inserted into a Nintendo counsel. Fast forward to current day today. Game counsels have been pretty much replaced by smart phones and mobile game apps. Today’s kids depend on their smart phones to the point that it’s become an extension of their lives. Almost everything could be handled on smart phones. Everything from social media lives to gaming addictions.

The problem is that a smart phone in the hands of a kid ends up creating a situation where they lock themselves in their rooms and they seldom go outside. I believe this is because everything they seek can be found on their smart phone. For us parents out there with teenagers…..what happens when you take away your kids phone? Two things usually happen. On a positive note, they magically start hanging out in the living room with everyone else to watch TV and have conversations. On the down side they end up complaining that they’re bored. Being bored means they haven’t learned how to have fun without a smart phone or computer at hand. Or it could be the typical nagging tactic so that us parents will give in and give them back their phone and/or computer. Whatever the case, these two things seem to happen every time phones or computers are taken away.

pokemon-goI seen alot of post on social media about Pokemon Go. Out of curiosity I installed the app. I quickly learned that the main objective is to catch as many Pokemon’s as you can. The game pulls your GPS location and shows an actual map of where you are in real time. In order to find Pokemon’s you have to walk around until the game alerts you that a Pokemon is either close by or right in front of you. That’s when I realized that this was technology coming full circle. Typically, a game app or a game played on a counsel doesn’t require you to walk to achieve a games goal. Pokemon Go on the other hand, requires you to walk around to find Pokemon’s. The distance you walk is up to you. There’s Pokemon’s littered all over the city. GENIUS!

IMG_4065My 17 year old let us know that downtown was littered with Pokemon’s. Out of curiosity my wife and I took a drive to downtown San Jose to see what we could find. We found much more than just Pokemon’s. It was something that I haven’t seen in a long time. There were crowds of kids and adults walking in groups looking for Pokemon’s. There were kids riding bikes and skate boards in groups just like when I was a kid. Everyone was engaged. Sure everyone had their smart phones out but they were all socializing. It was 100% better than having those same people/kids at home on the couch or in their rooms with their face buried in their phones.

I say all of this to say that technology has come full circle. This is the spark that was needed to motivate app developers to think outside the box. The truth is that smart phones and our kids go hand in hand. App developers have a market and a opportunity to provide a different approach to socializing. Pokemon Go is something like an adventure with friends. 🙂

Embrace the now and although times have evolved, basic human needs will always find a way to adapt.

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