Field Observations from a Non-Pokemon Go Player

My wife witnessed a Pokeromance in the making, while I discussed the philosophical underpinnings of Pokehunting with a 14-year-old.

Pokemon Go

Platforms: iOS
Developer: Niantic, Inc.

I'm not playing Pokemon Go. I don't have a cellphone full of Pokemon because, well, I don't own a cellphone.

Though I should really say that I am not playing Pokemon Go directly. Instead, I have been tagging along on Pokehunts for the past couple of days. However, I think that in some way that still makes me a participant because the game is not merely the game, the virtual part, the digital part. Much of the game is what occurs around the game, physically, socially, and economically.

I don't know how long the Pokemon Go craze will go on, but if it has any real long term roots, it could serve as part of a solution to the obesity epidemic in the US. People are really out and about right now, taking long walks alone and in packs, biking and skateboarding.

Pokemon Go also seems a boon just in terms of strangers socializing. While players are looking at cellphone screens an awful lot, they are still acknowledging people around them, asking advice about how to battle at a gym, asking what team other players are on, and directing others towards the area that they just found a Geodude in.

I spent Monday evening in the downtown area of my small college town. People were walking the few blocks of the three streets that make up that area. They were gathered in the central square where a number of hot spots were and where others had planted Lure Modules that draw large groups of Pokemon for everyone in the area.

While advising a group of the location of a Fearow that my wife had just found in an alleyway, one girl told me about the epic battle that her friend, who had only had two pokeballs left had just fought to capture a higher level (300+ CP) Vulpix that she caught with that second ball.

A 14 year-old-boy stopped to explain passionately why the philosophy underpinning the blue Mystic team was far superior to the “feels” philosophy of the yellow Instinct team. “Catching Pokemon with your feelings is... is... so stupid!”, he scoffed. He was ready and willing to take on all debaters.

We ran into a friend of my oldest daughter, who we hadn't seen in about a year, and he told us about a Venomouth that he had thrown Pokeballs at for three blocks while walking home from work. He finally captured it right before he got home to his apartment.

My wife caught a Slowpoke and a Koffing in the downtown square, while two of my daughters and I went to buy sandwiches to bring back at a local sandwich shop a block away. My 17 year-old daughter caught three or four common Pokemon in a row as she waited while I ordered at a table in the place. She took a picture of a Spearow perched on my 14-year-old daughter's finger before we got our sandwiches.

People are out and about, chatting with their friends and with complete strangers. They're spending money at local businesses while out on their Pokeadventures.

My wife witnessed what she felt was a Pokeromance in the making as a purple haired girl made eyes at a nerdy guy in a group of Pokehunters. She flipped her hair as she explained to him that she hadn't brought her phone but maybe she could “just walk with you guys?” The guy who had responded with some uncertainty at first grinned, “Sure. That'd be great!”

I don't know what kind of legs the Pokemon Go phenomenon has, but I am hoping that it at least lasts until September. The university where I work, which is within walking distance of my house and has tons of hotspots and three Pokemon gyms on it, is also hopping right now. However, I think that this phenomenon might be a great thing for general sociability and getting familiar with the campus for incoming freshmen and transfer students.

The whole experience seems especially powerful for a Millenial audience, those who grew up with ubiquitous cellphones and internet and the Pokemon properties. I'm a little old to feel any nostalgia for Pokemon generally. As far as I am concerned it was a show that my oldest daughter watched when she was a kid, little else. However, the game captures what I think is the bare bones concept of the video games and the show, exploring the world while catching unique and fantastic creatures. It's a neat way of overlaying nostalgia on the real and present world, and it's a neat way of getting people out of doors to meet and socialize with others who share that powerful nostalgia with one another.

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.