Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Pokemon Go or No?

Pokémon Go or No?
If you didn’t know the new Pokémon Go App launched this past weekend, then you probably don’t have kids or teens living in your house.  Pokémon hit the seen in 1998 here in the US, it was a wave that quickly spread with the Red and Blue game version being released, followed by an anime series and trading card game. As a kid’s pastor I wanted to know what this was all about. During this sensation Burger King hosted trading card events, so my son and I went to one.  It was a little overwhelming for my 6 year-old and me.  We felt like inexperienced traders in the heart of Wall Street! Nevertheless, we got the cards and later that night I started reading the characteristics of the characters -- I was not a fan.  They were fairly descriptive of how they destroyed the opponent they would face and felt like this was probably not something I would promote.  That night my son and I had identical nightmares about the Pokémon and that sealed the deal.  Fast-forward several years with much retooling and softening of the characters, the inclusion of them in multiple platforms, and general acceptance of the popular characters brings us to the new phenomenon called Pokémon Go.  This app works on your mobile device with access to the GPS and camera. It creates a fictional world in the real world of your town.  Object: collect the characters “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” as the slogan goes. Whereas before Pokémon was a No, I think Pokémon Go is a YES! Here are my reasons why:
  •       It is fun! The interactive partnership with Google allows you to find Pokémons in your very own town. That promotes people to go around and check out their area.  Churches, shopping centers, and parks are often Poké Stop where you can gain items.
  •       It gets your kids moving while playing a video game! On the map you will have to walk to get to the Pokémon, again parks, shopping centers are great for walking around collecting the unique characters. Michelle Obama would be proud!
  •       It brings people together! If your kid doesn’t drive, you will soon be hearing… “mom can I go to the store with you?” Unfortunately, it might not be because they want more bonding time with their parent, but an opportunity to pick up new items needed in the game.
  •       It can be used as a connecting point! What a great opportunity to connect with your community, organize a Pokémon Scavenger Hunt, put a sign up at your church saying “Poké Stop- Come Inside for Free Pokémon Balls & Special Gift” then give them a visitor pack and invite them to visit on Sunday.

Although this game has its positive points, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, parents and players please be wise when playing.  It is not a good idea to wander around areas that you are not familiar with. Unsafe areas and the danger of strangers still exists, even if the game says it’s a Poké Stop or Poké Gym. Second, the people gather at one of these stops might not have good intentions. A game this popular will bring out those seeking to harm others.

In all, have fun with this fad- be safe and be creative!  There are always opportunities to connect with people; this one will engage the kids, teens and young adults in our community.