The latest trend to hit the vision and minds of digital and mobile gamers is ‘Pokémon Go’.
To many, another innovation worthy of disdain from the parents and authorities with children transfixed by Wii, XBox, Playstation, tablets and mobiles.
I must be just another in an army of parents that recite the monotonous and predictable lines about an upbringing without technology – where leisure time and weekends meant playing outdoors at the local ‘rec’ (recreation ground) unsupervised. How times have changed with more ‘cotton wool’ protocols in approaches to childcare and interaction meaning chats via headsets between friends – if not in the same room.
The Company announces: “Travel between the real world and the virtual world of Pokémon with Pokémon GO for iPhone and Android devices. With Pokémon GO, you’ll discover Pokémon in a whole new world—your own!” It says that ‘Pokémon Go’ was downloaded more times in its first week than any other iPhone app in history.
But those awaiting my displeasure will be kept waiting. Today, I let my Son out of my sight for the first real time to go with five trusted friends hunting for Pokémons. The reason I’m actually defending this innovation is that this Game actually took the boys outdoors and they enjoyed camaraderie, banter, relationships and most of all a plus for me, exercise. Thankfully the boys in question all partake in regular sport, be that rugby, football, lacrosse or swimming. I do believe (even though I’ve never played it) the coding of Pokémon offers potential for projects linking to Pokémon or similar technology which could fit with new exercise regimes and/or fan engagement. Vancouver Whitecaps have broken news of their recent signings this Season 2016/2017, by recreating their own version of Pokémon GO. The options are endless and limited only by the creativity of developers.
The Youth Sports Trust claims: “One in four kids thinks playing computer games is ‘exercise’“. Well kiddywinks, I’ve got news for you it isn’t! But with Pokémon maybe there’s hope? The Findings appear in a Study, entitled the “Class of 2035”, which warns “that sport in schools is at a “critical crossroads” and must remain a priority “to avoid a physically and socially disengaged future generation, over dependent on technology”.
My Brother-in-Law who has undertaken research into technology and effects on perceptions and reactions at University of Portsmouth – appears to back the idea up to an hour a day of sedentary game playing may actually do good and sharpen responses. But this idea of taking technology as a platform to facilitate exercise could surely get a thumbs up. Modern day pastimes and trends linked to every day needs, namely: exercise – and the combat of unhealthy lifestyles and obesity.
The World Health Organization (WHO) regards childhood obesity as a major challenge for public health this Century. Obese children and adolescents are at an increased risk of developing various health problems, and are also more likely to become obese adults themselves in turn.
So my message is clear, if the likes of Donald Trump can convince the populous to vote for him as a US Presidential Candidate – I think a more plausible manifesto or mission is to take Pokémon – and either via the CSR of the inventing company and/or a credible sporting practitioner, take Pokémon, or an equally compelling character and platform, and redress the balance. The Game is making circa $1.6 million per day with an estimated 7.5 million U.S downloads.
I say “Go Pokemon Go” show the World the good that technology and exercise can bring to children’s lives and futures.