Thursday, July 7, 2016

Pokemon GO

Today a new game was released for smart phones, Pokemon GO. This is an augmented reality smartphone app version of Pokemon, in which you have to walk around your neighborhood to catch Pokemon. Two of my children have done pretty much nothing else since they downloaded the game, and we keep seeing other young people (10 to 25) walking by with their faces glued to their phones, obviously playing the game.

Pretty cool, although it will only be a matter of hours before the first person crashes his or her car while playing.


G. Verloren said...

One curious thing I've heard about the game in America is that it has an overwhelming tendency to lead people to churches for some reason.

At first I thought perhaps this was a weird cultural mistranslation, as for the Japanese visiting a Shinto shrine is a relatively casual affair that can be carried out at any time for any reason, unlike visiting most churches which are technically private property and typically only visited at given times on given days, with the expectation of active worship from the devout instead of just random people looking around.

I've since learned that the developers of this game made a previous game which is largely unknown, but which reportedly operates in the exact same way and has the same odd tendency to direct players to churches, leading some to speculate that they literally just imported the system and location data from one game to the other. And one suggestion I've heard that sound plausible is that churches might have been specifically chosen out of a perception that they are "safe places" for kids to seek out.

I discussed all this with a close friend while driving around town, and they mused "If people are right and they wanted to pick safe places, then why only churches? Why not places like libraries?". I boggled for a moment, then not-unbitterly asked, "What do you think the ratio of churches to libraries is in most of this country? Because I'd wager it's at least 50 to 1, if not far, far higher depending on location." Spoken aloud, it gave us both a sort of somber, rueful shock as we really thought about that fact and what it tells us about our society.

John said...

The church down the street from me is a "gym." But in my immediate neighborhood it is the only building noticeably larger than the others. So far as I can tell the game only has basic Google maps-type mapping, so it only knows the size of buildings, not anything else about them.

John said...

Actually I just discovered that the Catonsville library is a gym. And I've been told that the program is sophisticated enough to know where cemeteries are, because that is where you catch ghost types.