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Pokémon GO With Me Here

You’re not mistaken. I haven’t accidentally put a post from my gaming project on the wrong blog. Pokémon GO is all the rage at the moment. For how long, it’s hard to tell, but regardless I think we can draw some interesting correlations from the game. Go with me here.

You’ve no doubt noticed just how many people are playing this game. We’re used to seeing people entrenched with their screens, but it’s even more prevalent now. People of all shapes, sizes, ages and demographics are in clusters everywhere you look, catching the elusive virtual creatures.

I’m not here to say whether the game is good or bad. I’m not here to write the same blog post that has been written a thousand times in the last 3 weeks. My opinion isn’t important. I’m merely here to observe. Because even if this game is just a fad, exercise shouldn’t be. But maybe there are crossovers.

We all need a reason to exercise. For some, it’s physical appearance. Others, a choice about their health. Some want to maintain a level of fitness they’ve worked so hard on attaining, others desiring a monumental shift in their habits and behaviours in search for a healthier life.

If you were to listen to popular opinion, back in the “good old days,” kids used to get outside, get dirty, climb trees, and be active. Now, according to everyone you trust and believe, this no longer happens. Kids are always indoors, playing in a virtual world instead of the real one.

I’m pro technology. I’m a firm believer that when used in the right way it can aid us in achieving our goals and enriching our life. Take Pooch Patrol for example. A casual observer might see the irony in creating an online community and virtual body of work in an effort to get people exercising more. I think it’s not a matter of avoidance in getting back to our “roots” by removing technology, rather an act of balance, and of careful collaboration, just like anything else in life to reach our desired outcome.

Incase you haven’t looked into the new Pokémon game, it’s based on a concept called Augmented Reality. It’s not new, but it is most definitely now main stream. The game is much like looking at Google Maps. Different Pokémon appear in different areas of the real world. They don’t appear in real life, obviously, but instead the screen you are playing through. It’s a secondary reality, superimposed virtually on your own. A few decades ago, much like the smart phone and tablet, this was considered science fiction. Now, every person you know takes it for granted.

Video games have always caught a lot of flack, especially from those looking for a convenient solution. They’re an easy target. We’d ridicule anyone who spent any number of hours mastering Guitar Hero, saying they would have better spent their time learning to play a real instrument. The irony being that it’s almost easier to make a living live-streaming your Guitar Hero skills online through than it is making any sort of career in the music industry.

Similarly, sitting on the couch watching sport is not seen in the same light as sitting on the couch playing games. This is coming from a guy that loves doing both. And yet here we have a game that no longer forces you to sit on a couch. We always wanted to get people outside. Now they are. We can’t be mad if they bring their phones with them. So instead of fighting in the details, embrace them and find ways to compliment the reality with your ideals. I can assure you that the Zombies, Run! mobile app is the only reason I go for a run around the neighbourhood after work.

Let’s not be the old man telling the kids to get off our lawn. We don’t have to like or understand a new thing to not be able to see the world through a positive pair of spectacles. Being that grumpy old man is a choice.

In my humble opinion, augmented reality has great possibilities for fostering community, physical activity, and most importantly, having fun. We avoid exercise because it’s not fun. If we can disguise exercise within any activity and have fun while doing so, that’s a win in my books any day of the week. This week it’s Pokémon GO. Next week it might be something completely different. Does it matter? We should just all try our best to keep up with the times, make some new friends, and have a little fun along the way.

That’s what I’ll be doing.