More than 20 million active users in the Unites States; government agencies on alert for a tragedy in the making with droves of distracted drivers, walkers and trespassers; not to mention concern for users’ data privacy.
Welcome to summer’s run-away mega app success, Pokemon Go, the game that spawned an overnight tsunami of kids and adults roaming streets and cemetery, landmarks and other locales in the quest to find Pokemon characters.
But what is it?
Answer: A free game for iPhones and Android devices that marries data from your smartphone’s camera, GPS and position sensors to turn what’s physically in front of you into a background against which Pokemon characters can be found. And this is cool: Where you are and the time of day actually impacts what characters you’ll see. If you’re in a park, you’ll see bug and grass types; at night, ghosts and fairies.
That’s the short version. A longer short version can be found here.
So, despite the police warnings, is this a good game for your child?
Depends on whom you ask:
Some people say the game is really great for getting people out of isolation and interacting with one another (you know, the opposite of the isolation most apps are blamed for).
Others see the potential of the game to get kids out in nature, even if they are
somewhat completely distracted by their devices. And get this: A Canadian-based entomologist even launched the hashtag #PokeBlitz to help players identify animals (real ones!) they encounter in parks and other settings on their augmented reality adventures.
And some preliminarily data from fitness trackers like Jawbone suggest that there might very well be an uptick in physical activity among users that coincides with the app’s launch. How crazy is that?
But it’s not all good news. For some, the game is causing huge problems. One man who lives in a converted church that’s been designated a Pokemon Gym, has found his home has been a sudden magnet for gamers. “Living in an old church means many things,” says Boon Sheridan. “Today it means my house is a Pokémon Go gym. This should be fascinating.”
And for physically disabled gamers for whom jumping, running and climbing is not an option, the game offers little to be excited about.