Pokemon Go – Gotta Catch the Socialness!

My daily commute takes me through Pioneer Courthouse Square (in Portland, Oregon). During both the weekday morning and evening commutes, unless there’s a specific event or protest going on, there usually aren’t too many people just hanging out. A few tourists, perhaps a few people taking a break in their evening, but mostly those hours see the bustle of commuters on their way home from work.

Last week, though, I encountered something completely different. One day, in particular, there was a pretty decent sized crowd of people sitting on the steps. There were even people gathered around the small ampitheater off to the side. Most were looking at, and swiping at, their phones. Many of them were playing Pokémon Go.

With three PokéStops (with Lures active on them most of the time), and a Gym, it’s a good place to set up camp. And, from the way the colors of the Gym were changing quickly, it was clear some teams had come together to try taking control. I saw people smiling, laughing, occasionally cheering, and staring at their phones in intense concentration. Mostly they were in clusters of two or three, but sometimes those groups were larger and a few seemed to merge into much larger groups as people realized they were sitting alongside teammates.

Most of this group has found their way to this Pokemon hub to play a bit on their lunch breaks!

Most of this group has found their way to this Pokemon hub to play a bit on their lunch breaks!

The game has its faults, certainly, but there are also a lot of great things about it, and I’m really enjoying watching the social aspect. It’s been an awesome tool to get people to come together in a social manner. A number of restaurants and businesses are starting to offer perks to Pokémon Trainers as a way to encourage them to come and stay a while (and, of course, spend some money). Even the National Park Service is getting in on the game!

The game actively encourages the players to go out and move, to wander around in search of elusive Pokémon and then come to certain, central, places to interact with other people who are in that same location. While the concept is certainly not new it has become so fiercely popular that the groups gathering are more noticeable. In the short time that the game has been out it’s already made a difference – a visible difference – in the way that people are acting in and interacting with their world.

I’ve seen families out on Pokémon gathering walks. I’ve overheard conversations about the game occurring between people who would not normally be interacting with one another.

A mother and daughter spending some time at lunch hunting Pokemon

A mother and daughter spending some time at lunch hunting Pokemon

At my local parks I’ve seen more people of all ages out and about in the beautiful weather than I’m used to seeing. I’ve joined a local Pokémon Go group on Facebook and a variety of events have already been organized.  It’s amazing the places that this game has been making an active difference.

I know that I’m not the only one making these observations, there are so many anecdotal accounts, people sharing their stories and the ways that they’ve already been seeing community growing and coming together because of the game.

I love hearing these stories. It’s awesome to see technology serving to help people get out and build bridges between each other — especially in this time when there are so many divides being built between us.

Do you play? Have you experienced the game bringing people together at all?

12 responses to “Pokemon Go – Gotta Catch the Socialness!

  1. Pingback: Pokemon Go — and Comparative Geek! | Eclectic Alli

  2. I’m super-casual about the whole thing–throwing balls and catching critters–because I don’t have any direct friends playing. I did notice in a local park the other day dozens upon dozens people interacting the same way you describe above. It was my first time in a community of players. With half-dozen Pokestops in my section of the park alone, I discovered landmarks and plaques that I’d walked by a hundred times before but never noticed.

    It’s more sensational to point out all the bad things and careless people, but stupid is stupid, and it doesn’t take a game to make that happen.

    What team did you join?

    Diana

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    • Eclectic Alli

      So far I’ve been “casual”… well until very recently where I discovered the thrill of taking a Gym – it’s pretty awesome! I also LOVE how much I’m getting to find new cool attractions right in my own backyard – I kind of want a mechanism so that I can add more… I would completely drown the local area with points of historical interest.
      I went team Mystic, because I like blue and I noticed the gyms in my area were mostly that color 🙂

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      • All of the Gyms in my area are taken by high-level trainers. I get in only if there’s a grey one and I leap in to claim it. At almost-Level 16, I’m getting some potent Pokémon that may help me win even one battle. 🙂

        Training and battling sounds like fun, but I haven’t gotten that whole concept down. I can’t dodge to save my Poke life!

        I chose Team Mystic because…well…Penn State is the color blue and…well, Penn State is the color blue. 🙂

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  3. Definitely more of a casual player myself. I joined Valor because I already had friends in Valor. It is interesting walking areas with a lot of Pokestops versus areas with little or none. It is kind of fun to walk along and then hear another person talking about seeing a Pokemon or something similar.

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    • Eclectic Alli

      I’ve really enjoyed overhearing conversations during my commute! My neighborhood has nothing outside of the park (okay, that’s not true, I think there are two or three spawn points… maybe…) but downtown, where I work, things are hopping! Today I was listening to a young woman explain, and show, two slightly older women on the train about it — something about playing the game seems to open up some people to be willing to ask a stranger about it — it’s pretty cool to watch.

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  4. I don’t playplay. I do know that if this were years ago when I had kids at home, I would have gotten into it for their sakes. And the grand kids are too young to know anything about it.

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  5. Pingback: If We Were Having Coffee – Getting Organized… maybe. | Eclectic Alli

  6. Pingback: Welcome to the new Comparative Geeks! – Comparative Geeks

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