Pokémon Go, more popular than sex?

By Bill Colvard - [email protected]

Pokémon Go seriously caught my attention when I heard it had been downloaded onto more Android phones than the hook-up app Tinder, which would seem to indicate that Pokémon Go is more popular than sex.

Well, that certainly got my attention.

That left me with two choices; jump on a pop culture bandwagon with all the other pop culture groupies or be one of the old curmudgeons bewailing the oncoming apocalypse caused by the latest pop culture phenomenon.

Of course, I downloaded the game.

So far I have not driven off a cliff or crashed into a police car or been shot by a disgruntled neighbor. I don’t think that last thing has actually happened yet but I know people who have threatened to shoot any Pokémon hunters spotted on their property. The hostility toward this game intrigues me as much or more than its popularity. The absolute glee with which each new Pokémon-induced disaster is greeted is absolutely fascinating.

It also seems to me that the very same people kvetching about Pokémon Go’s contribution to the downfall of civilization are the very same people who have whined for decades that young people sitting in the house playing video games instead of being outdoors playing in the fresh air were causing the downfall of civilization. Well, now the kids are playing outdoors and the moaning continues louder than ever.

The closest I personally have come to Pokémon disaster was almost being run over on the sidewalk by three women with strollers in front of Trinity Episcopal Church. I was lucky they weren’t playing the game, also, or things could have turned ugly.

I was hovering around Trinity because it’s a PokéStop. So is the Mount Airy Museum. PokéStops are points of local interest where Pokémon activity occurs. I’d heard Main Street was a hotbed of this activity. One of my Facebook friends, Kayla Burchette, said a lot of people play there. She said it was fun to watch the families and friends hanging out together and enjoying each other’s company. Said she’s met new people and seen old friends she hasn’t seen in years.

Since Kayla’s not originally from Mount Airy, she wasn’t familiar with downtown and wasn’t aware of all the shops there. While playing Pokémon, she said she has shopped in five downtown stores she’d never been to before instead of heading off to Winston to get things as she normally would have done.

So the game’s not all bad. It’s good for local business, apparently. Not everybody is out driving over people. It says right on the screen while you are waiting interminably for the game to load that you should be aware of your surroundings while playing. Of course, there’s a funny picture of some goofy schmo holding a phone in front of his face as he walks into the mouth of a dragon.

Which brings up another creepy aspect of this game. It’s based on augmented reality which means when you look at the screen of your phone, it looks like the camera is on and you’re looking at what’s in front of you but superimposed on the real surroundings are these funky animated creatures. It’s very bizarre and oddly compelling. Perhaps not as compelling as sex, as the statistics would have us believe, but compelling nonetheless.

I am still not altogether comfortable with the notion that these critters are all around us and we can’t see them without a phone stuck to our faces. The only two I have captured, or killed, or collected, or whatever it is you do with them, were hanging out in my sun-room. That was disturbing, to say the least.

A friend nabbed one on her screen porch. Apparently, Pokémon critters are fond of indoor-outdoor rooms. Beware. Just because you’re not playing doesn’t mean they’re not haunting you. Pokémon has made me feel a little bit like the creepy kid in “The Sixth Sense” who sees dead people.

If my motive to play this game was to stay on top of the latest trends and technology, it has been a sad and dismal failure. It has only made me aware of how ridiculously inept I am at technology.

The phone has overheated twice. Shortly after the near-miss with the strollers on Main Street yesterday, the screen started flashing that it was 131° and needed to cool down immediately. It was hot out but not that hot. Then the whole shebang crashed. At least I was able to keep it from restarting in safe mode and shutting down all my downloaded apps like happened the other time it overheated when I was hunting Pokémon in my neighborhood.

This is new. No app has ever overheated my phone before. And talk about a battery-sucker. No wonder people charge headlong in front of speeding cars. They’re racing a dying battery.

Which is how Pokémon has made me feel. Maybe it’s time to just get it over with and embrace my inner curmudgeon. If I’d done that to begin with, I wouldn’t be dodging invisible creatures in my own house now.


By Bill Colvard

[email protected]

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699 or on Twitter @BillColvard.

Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699 or on Twitter @BillColvard.

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