Thursday 14th July, 2016

A new way of connecting digitally? Kate Usher says #PokemonGO outside and play!

OK, so I know we’re nearing saturation point on this already, but bare with me...


Walking home from work this week I spotted a curious thing. Two young adults were walking through the park in front of me, the way millennials are famed for doing - head down, headphones on, phone out, oblivious to the rest of the world. So engrossed were they in what they were doing that they failed to notice each other and very nearly collided. Rather than muttering apologies and exchanging hacky looks the way one might expect, instead they smiled and introduced themselves.

A third then came along and joined in the exchange. The three of them, total strangers just moments ago, then set off for a leisurely stroll around the park together. They were all playing Pokemon GO.

Having only been released a week ago, and despite only being officially available in the UK from today, this game is already taking the country, and the world by storm. 

It’s the antidote, not only to the post Brexit blues, but also to the age-old parental complaint: “why don’t you go outside and play?”

It’s taking the concept of multiplayer gaming to a whole new level. This is so much more than donning an Xbox headset so a kid in America can swear down your earhole whilst simultaneously blowing you up with a grenade launcher in Call of Duty.

People of all ages are stepping out into the sunshine, rubbing their eyes  and heading off in search of Pikachu.

Take for example, the Pokémon Go Walk in Sydney this week. Planned as a little meet-and-greet via Facebook, the event led to over 2000 people turning up at the park near Sydney Opera House.

And that’s the potential beauty of it. Once was the time that we took our real life friends and turned them into distant acquaintances to occasionally poke on social media. Now we might actually be starting to see it in reverse - a new digital medium that is starting to see us communicate and forge brand new connections in the real world, bringing people together under a common goal: gotta catch ‘em all.

I for one hope it continues.