Pokemon went!

So, there was a family trip to Ueno Park to hunt for a couple of particularly elusive pokemon (Gyarados and Kamex [Blastoise] fact fans). Against my better judgement, which it turns out is (once again) not better at all, I've had a surprising amount of fun hunting for pokemon over the past few weeks.

The game itself (that is, the gameplay) as you might imagine, is very simple, mindless even, but it brings with it a framework which, for me at least, is a lot more positive.

It gets you out and about, which can't be a bad thing. It's also a surprisingly social game. In Ueno Park there were groups of friends playing alongside each other, there were also groups of strangers being drawn together in their shared pursuit.

For me and my family, it has become another thing that we can do together. As they grow and strike out on their own somewhat, I know that the number of opportunities to do things 'together' will start (has already started) to diminish. I will cling tightly to anything that slows that process.

The other thing that interests me, and it is the thing that has had me playing Pokemon Go on my own, is that the Pokestops (where supplies and equipment for the game can be collected) are all in places of cultural and local interest (like sculptures, standing stones, shrines, temples, and so on). Once you've found the spots, there is the opportunity (ignored by many players) to glean more information about the place or artifact. In that sense, the game can be used as tool to help you discover and explore any place you're in, and that's exactly how I used it on my most recent trip south. It really is amazing what you can find, even in locales that you thought you were very familiar with. For example, it turns out that for more than 10 years I have lived less than 100 metres from a very important local memorial. I must have walked right by it 1000s of times and never knew it was there. Now I do, and I know all about it... that sounds like a really good thing to me. 

The algorithm (inherited from the vast Ingress augmented reality game) is there then to make the perfect app for what I like to do. I just need Niantic to go back and re-inform their Field Trip app. I want to explore the places I visit. I want to glimpse the essence of those places, see their hidden treasures, collect them. In the meantime, I'll have to play to the pokemon format and along with the locale exploring, try to find some hidden monsters... perhaps even catch 'em all.


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