Last week suddenly there were groups of people with backpacks and cell phones wandering the streets. Sounds like a typical day, except these back pack wearing, cell phone staring nerds were gathering in groups and pointing at things. In the past I’d refer to those groups as “nerd herds,” but this time those groups began to change. As these occurrences became more and more frequent, regular people started to notice and began doing the same thing. And then I became one of them.
Yes, that picture above was me earlier this week. I had about 15 free minutes during work, so on a city street I found myself tracking Pokemon. I’m sure by now that you’ve heard of Pokemon Go! It’s an app based game where you track and capture imaginary creatures in real life places. The game uses your phones GPS settings to locate you on a cartoon map, well, not you, but your avatar, and it shows you walking around your neighborhood or town as you track the Pokemon. When you get close enough to one, the game will access your camera and on your phone’s screen you see the real life scene in front of you, as if you were taking a picture, but in that scene is a moving cartoon Pokemon character for you to capture.
I think the game is great, especially for the nerd herds. People who might otherwise be at home in their mom’s basement insulting strangers on the internet and living life as a Warcraft character are now out in the real world getting exercise and meeting other people. Who knows how many marriages will result from this!
But Pokemon Go! isn’t just all fun and games. Several people have been injured and killed so far as a result of their own inattentiveness while playing. Earlier in the week a Massachusetts man caused a major highway accident stopping his car to catch a Pikachu. In California two men fell down a cliff. They were injured but not killed, although they did need to be rescued by emergency services. In a town not too far from me a driver crashed their car into a tree because they were playing while driving. As my friend Dave said the other day, “don’t get in the way of natural selection.”
Something has to be done. Yes, natural selection and the loss of people stupid enough to play while driving is appropriate. We certainly don’t want people that stupid to reproduce. But…we can’t have those people accidentally taking out the good nerds in the process. We need the good nerds. Like it or not, our world doesn’t run without them. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but nerd culture is our culture now. We’re learning their language to navigate the increasingly technological world. We’re playing their games on our phones and we’re watching their TV shows and movies, ie Big Bang Theory, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, all the popular superhero movies. All of those are things that twenty years ago the average person would have mocked as nerdy or geeky. We are all geek chic now. It’s their world and we’re just living in it.
So, as I said, if the designers could implement some kind of safety features in the game that would save the idiots from themselves and from injuring others, I’m all in. I will happily step into that virtual world, (outside of work time and when I’m not driving of course).
Have a great weekend and may you find a Scyther or Venusaur in your travels. Just look where you’re going please! ~Phil