It’s all over the news, social media, and everywhere else people look to get information about what’s going on in the world. A new mobile game called Pokemon go was recently released, not for Nintendo handheld devices, like in the past, but for Android and Apple smartphones and tablets.
The objective of the game is to wander around the real world while looking through the camera lens on the mobile device. Through a technology referred to as “augmented reality” animated game characters are superimposed over real-world locations. Once these creatures are located, they can be captured, and used to fight for one of three colored teams, who are all battling one another for control of “gyms”, pre-determined locations found all over town.
Seemingly every one is talking about it, and it’s a well warranted conversation, too. Very few games are based on the concept of leaving the house and walking around the neighborhood in order to play. To date, every other Pokemon game could be played completely indoors, with all player-to-player interaction taking place over the internet. Most early Pokemon games didn’t even have that functionality, and were nothing more than solitary gaming experiences.
But now, with groups of strangers spontaneously converging as they all fight for dominance of the same public fountain, basketball court, or bus stop, an interesting social dynamic is beginning to develop, and it’s no surprise that people are talking about it.
However, what’s left out of most of these conversations are the people that aren’t playing it at all. Anyone that hasn’t been playing is likely getting tired of all of the news headlines, social media updates, and public conversations taking place about fictional monsters hiding behind bushes and vending machines. It’s similar to the mood someone that has no interest in sports might fall into during March madness, or in the weeks before the super bowl. It’s easy for a person to become fatigued over a topic that they find uninteresting, but everyone else is obsessed with.
So with so many falling head over heals for this game, what is it that keeps some people away? For some, it’s the game itself. As mentioned before, this is one of the first successful games that’s based in getting off the couch and wandering around the real world. For many people that play games, that’s the opposite of what they are trying to achieve. Anyone looking to relax and unwind after a long day of hard work isn’t likely going to have much interest in putting their shoes back on and looking for Pokemon hidden somewhere in their neighborhood.
Similarly, the likelihood of running into and having to talk with strangers doing the same thing isn’t going to entice everyone, either. Some people thrive on those types of social situations, where meeting new people is part of the fun. But for others, that’s as close to a living nightmare as they can imagine.
Another set of people that isn’t likely to participate are those that have never gotten into the Pokemon universe at all. The cut off point for that seems to lie somewhere in the late-twenties-to-early-thirties demographic. Sure, there’s a few grandparents out there playing at the local shopping mall, but it’s not very common when compared to the number of high school and college students looking around their respective campuses.
This age cutoff stems mostly from when the Pokemon card games and cartoons fist became popular in the US, back in the late 1990s. Anyone that was still in grade school at the time was probably interested, or at least exposed to the characters enough to learn a few of their names. But teenagers and adults at the time probably didn’t pay much attention to a bunch of animated characters that were popular with young children. That lack of interest holds firm nearly two decades later.
None of this is to be interpreted as the game not being a good game. For those that do have interest, it probably provides a lot of fun and interesting social interaction with people that otherwise might not have ever interacted with one another. But many people don’t have any opinion on the game at all, and would prefer to keep it that way by not playing it.