Thanks to a recent innovation by Niantic, kids are leaving behind the solitude of their bedrooms and entering into the world of learning and making friends the old fashioned way. They are being seen out and about walking and talking with one another, which for this generation frankly is kind of like seeing a near extinct animal on the prairie grazing in the sun.
Let’s face it, kids these days don’t get out much; and speaking to each other comes in the form of fingers pressing out a text, instead of words coming across the lips.
But thanks to the recent craze of the game Pokemon Go, kids are trading in those game controllers that kept them in the house, and are now using their mobile phones to get out and socialize, also learning along the way. Pokemon Go is bringing the youngster outside, instead of them being stationary in front of their televisions.
If you haven’t heard about Pokemon Go, then you have either been living under a rock or haven’t paid much attention to the increase in young people out and about both day and night. Pokemon Go is a free-to-play location-based augmented reality mobile game developed by Niantic and published by The Pokemon Company. It was released in July 2016 for iOS and Android devices and has thus become the next biggest thing.
There is really too much to it to describe all of the aspects of the game. Basically you download an app on your mobile phone, which allows you to search areas and find Pokemons to catch with a Pokeball. There are three teams you can play with- Mystic, Valor or Instinct- and you can battle each other (virtually) to take over Gyms. Still confused? That’s okay, you’re not the only one. You really need to play it to understand it totally. The great thing about the game is that you really don’t have to be close to puberty to play. All ages can play. You just need a mobile devise and the stamina to move from place to place.
For those who knew Pokemon years ago when the characters first made a splash in Japan on February 27, 1996, this recent craze is just the next step in a pop culture that spawned television shows, game card collecting, figurines and an assortment of products directed towards the numerous characters of Pokemon. For some, the draw is just part of their childhood, and the new Pokemon Go game was calling to them like a long lost friend.
The learning aspect of the game comes from the many sites players must go to gather the necessary stuff they need like Pokeballs, Candy and eggs, which can spawn you guessed it… Pokemon. Most sites a player must go to are located at historic places. This allows for players to learn about history while playing the game.
“I didn’t know there was a World War II monument in Russellville,” said 18-year-old Austin Yewell.
“There is also a Civil War one too,” said Emily Crutchfield, 19.
“I read about the Sexton House,” said Daniel Brown who is under 10-years-old.
I wanted to know more about this new wave, so as a reporter I decided to gathered together a group of young people and meet them on the square in Russellville to learn. I was astonished at the intelligence of the near dozen kids I interviewed, but more intrigued at their socialization with one another, and the acceptance this game has brought along with it.
While talking with the group about the game, others came along looking for Pokemon and ended up joining with us on the grass. Before the interview concluded, new friends were made by the group. What was cool for me to watch, apparently is going on all the time with this new game.
“I was out playing the other day and met some kids who were playing too,” said Matt Tinsley, 18. Others echoed Tinsley saying they had met up with old schoolmates while they were out playing that they hadn’t seen in years.
Siblings are getting closer to one another through the game. Just ask Dustin Brown who is under five years old and who has been following his sister and brother around playing it.
“I play it randomly, most of the time with Cheekies (his sister Emily),” said Dustin. And yes, he used the word “randomly” at this young age.
For Benjamin Myer, 16, playing Pokemon Go has helped him in more ways then one. “I have lost five pounds since I started playing this game,” said Myer, who sometimes plays six hours a day. “I live with my grandparents and when I started playing my grandfather didn’t really understand. But my grandmother was excited about it. We used to watch Pokemon when I was growing up so she knows the characters. Now she asks me questions about it.”
Matt Tinsley had to explain to his parents too what it was all about. He says his mom is all about it because it gets him out of his room and outside.
Caleb Cassady, who is leaving for college in August, said it’s fun to do something with all your friend who are playing as well. “Even though we can play games online with one another, this is getting us out and letting us see each other while we play,” said Cassady.
Griffin Newell said when he goes outside, he sees others who are playing and they all begin talking to one another.
There is a fear, however, this game can cause harm. Latest news articles suggest muggings, theft and luring kids into harmful places. Some fear kids will get run over by not watching where they are going. Perhaps it all comes down to what young Newell said about the bad press of the game. “You can find bad in everything,” he said. “There are bad people everywhere. You just have to be smart and pay attention.”
To contact Chris Cooper, email [email protected] or call 270-726-8394.