I’ve never been one for electronic games, other than a little Candy Crush to kill time when there isn’t any signal and I’ve not got a book to hand. I did however feel somewhat nostalgic when I heard Pokemon was going to be available as a phone app. I had no plans to download it, I wasn’t ten years old again.
Then the hype began….. and I thought that perhaps it would be interesting to see what all the fuss was about and as research for a blog post to consider whether the game really could help make people more active as it claimed.
With the app installed I wandered to Crystal Palace Park, somewhere I assumed lots of Pokemon would enjoy lurking. I was genuinely astounded about the number of young people in groups, hurrying between spots, frantically tapping at their phones before dashing to the next spot; there was a genuine buzz amongst groups of teenagers who I never seen do anything but lie on the grass looking un-phased by the world.
Next were groups of grown men. I do not mean to be offensive but I was genuinely pleased to see people who, granted I’m making assumptions, were overweight and looked like they would normally spent a Saturday in the pub together. Instead they were doing laps of the park.
Now I’m not a parent, so maybe I’ve judged too soon but I absolutely detest allowing children to be glued to various devices playing electronic games; as opposed to parents taking them to the park or swimming. So I’ve been pleased to see parents walking around the parks with their children, even if they are both staring at their phones, they are interacting and getting some fresh air.
So thats three demographics that I’ve seen Pokemon has got out and about. Crucial to this is that you have to walk about to play the game. But what about people who are active on a daily basis?
I definitely don’t need a game to get me out and about. That said, on the way to work in the morning I’ve found myself leaving ten minutes earlier to walk the long way to the station and going out of my way up and down streets to visit “Poke Stops”. I did notice a marginal increase on my daily steps but the count is hardly low to start with.
On Monday morning I went through the ordeal of a molar tooth extraction. Beforehand the dentist said no exercise for Monday/Tuesday and then only light exercise for the rest of the week. I told the dentist that I was training for a marathon but would stick to a jog no speed work. He raised an eyebrow. Apparently jogging is not considered light exercise. But I had Pokemon go and surely walking was light exercise. Needless to say I’m now Level 9 and have nearly 100 Pokemon. I seriously need to delete the app, I’d rather just go for a stroll and take in the natural scenery.
Today a senior colleague wanted to get ahead of his girlfriend by the time he got home and asked if I wanted to go for a quick Pokemon hunting walk at lunchtime; we usually don’t leave our desks unless it’s the 7 mins it takes me to make it to Tesco Express and back. Mid-walk I had a moment of clarity, I was a little addicted and I wasn’t the only one who had caught the bug.
That said, I am extremely disturbed by the stories I’ve heard of people falling off cliffs, getting stuck in Mines, lurking on people’s front gardens and disrespecting venues such as the holocaust memorial. The warning as the game loads clearly states – “Remember to be alert at all times. Stay aware of your surroundings”. It’s a bit of fun and it’s great if it gets people outside walking but unfortunately there will always be people who take it to the extreme in the quest to “Catch them all”.