Pokemon Go came out in Hong Kong on Monday. Just over 48 hours later and the city seems to have gone MAD!
As I wander around my local neighbourhood doing my regular everyday things hordes of people, often grouped together walk along blindly, eyes down, swiping on their phones, suddenly stopping, swiping some more.
“Yeah – so isn’t that normal in Hong Kong?” you ask.
Well – there are people who walk and text but they tend NOT to bump into you or stop short without a moments notice entirely consumed by their phones causing chaos to erupt behind them. And whilst there are a lot of people on Hong Kong footpaths they tend not to walk together in large groups as everyone normally has somewhere to go and places to be as quickly and efficiently as possible.
A group of people walked down and back past my local MTR station – apparently some kind of poke-spot causing havoc as they’d stop suddenly to ‘catch ’em all’. As I went about my errands the group were still walking up and back past the station entrance some 20 minutes later!
In one of the department stores different groups of teens stood in one particular corner swiping madly on their phones before moving on, another group replacing them, only for the first group to be back at the spot 5 minutes later.
Even my husband isn’t immune, especially after discovering poke-spots, lures and a poke-gym right outside our apartment complex.
“Gotta catch ’em all” is just as obsessive today as it was back in the day when we played Pokemon on our Gameboys. Yes younglings – Gameboys! Go look ’em up. Awesome technology it was! However it didn’t endanger lives or encourage children to wander like it’s modern day version.
For me, whilst I have no interest in Pokemon I do have to say I am intrigued by the geographic element of the game. Technically knowing how GIS works, I find myself amused and drawn to how the inner workings behind the GPS component is implemented. The geographical interaction seems to be one of the driving forces behind the popularity. People want a more immersive experience. They want to be a part of the world they are playing and they want that world to be a part of our real world. This game’s instantaneous popularity proves that beyond a doubt.
Unfortunately as a society because of our reliance on digital devices I’m not sure it’s all a good thing. Stories of people crashing cars, walking into poles/rivers and DYING because of a game… Us kids of the 80’s – we’d have laughed at our younger selves for such stupidity. Today, along with so much insanity it seems to be expected as a norm of society.
Sure, we played video games “back in the day” but they didn’t seem to consume us like the mobile games of today do.
I can’t help but wonder how long this latest digital obsession will last. Candy Crush seemed to pre-occupy Hong Kong for months! Will this do the same? Companies already have fliers out banning their staff from playing during work hours pre-empting the insanity and yet I’m certain we will see headlines in coming weeks of staff fired for playing.
I dread how schools will handle it when the kids head back from Summer break in a few weeks. How do you implement a no Pokemon zone in an area swarming with the target audience?
Why are we as a society so obsessed with these new innovations in gaming? What compels us to feed our addiction of a digital world? I wish I knew! Do you think you know?
Have you been swept up in the Pokemon Go wave? What is it that draws you into the game to catch ’em all?