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Tabletop RPG Storytime – Comparative Opinions Episode 35

Welcome to the Comparative Opinions podcast! Hosts Holly and David are considering a tabletop roleplaying campaign, and take some time thinking back on game systems and campaigns they’ve played. Reminisce, consider systems, and join in the nostalgia! Let us know what your favorite RPG stories are, or what systems you recommend!

Comparative Opinions is a weekly half-hour-ish podcast hosted on ComparativeGeeks.com. Subscribe for new episodes every Sunday!

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Music is by Scott Gratton: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Scott_Gratton/Intros_and_Outros

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Pokemon Go – Where Is It Now?

Last month, we had three great posts about the new big phenomenon – Pokemon Go. I’ll include a link to each of these at the end of this post. But it’s been a month and a half or so of the game now… where is it now?

I think it’s lost a lot of people, certainly a lot of daily constant play and obsession. It certainly lost Holly and I. On the other hand, I know of people (like podcast hosts I hear from) who are still playing, or in fact one at least who hasn’t returned to podcasting yet because of the game.

In many ways, it sounds like an incomplete game, with plans for future features. During this time, they were working on rolling out internationally and dealt with some of their big initial problems. It’s like the initial release of a game like World of Warcraft – big group expecting it, big group at the start, more than they expected. And the growing pains to go with that. We got into that game much later, which is a good time to get in, because those early growing pains can be difficult.

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Pokemon GO Is The New Devil And Other Thoughts.

So, unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, you know by now that the world is gone a little mad for Pokémon Go. I’m one of probably three people in the world who hasn’t played the game yet, so you might wonder why exactly I’m choosing to write about it. My connection to Pokémon began about 1998 when my nephews discovered the anime series. It wasn’t long before they started collecting cards and playing (*gasp*) Pokemon video games.

One of the boys is on the Autism spectrum and, at 8 years old, had probably said a total of 5 words to me in his entire life. He had enough verbal communication to keep up with the kids in his school and get his daily needs met, but talking for social reasons was just not his thing. Our conversations usually went like this:

“Me–Hey Kid, how you doing?
Kid–*shrug*
Me–What game are you playing?
Kid–*stares at video game in hands*
Me–Looks like fun.
Kid–Mm.
Me–*sits down to stare at book in hands for the next two hours*
Kid–*plunks down and stares at game some more*”

I was pretty sure we understood each other. We were both nerds engaging in a moment of nerd-companionship and didn’t need a whole lot of conversation to communicate. He liked his games the same way that I like my books.

I could be totally positive though. Sometimes I wondered if he thought it was annoying or if he thought much about me at all. Then one day the conversation changed.

“Me–Hey Kid, how you doing?
Kid–*shrug*
Me–What game are you playing?
Kid–Pokémon Red.
Me–*tilting head like a dog* Like the show?
Kid–Kind of. *goes back to game*
Me–*sits down to stare at book in hands for the next two hours*
Kid–*plunks down and stares at game some more* *while still playing, randomly startts explaining entire plot of the anime, gameplay and differences between show and games, then LEAVES ROOM and returns with collection of cards and toys to show me*
Me–O..O *puts book down*”

Now, fortunately for us, my nerd superpower is the ability to absorb and follow vast quantities of complex information and detail without batting an eyelash. At the time, my mission in life was to be the cool aunt that followed the kids’ stuff and could talk about it, both with them and with parents who needed to know what it was about. That day, I spent about three hours talking to my nephew about all things Pokémon, because I valued him and that I was willing to take seriously something that mattered to him, even if I personally found it less exciting.

That’s called being a nice person, for anyone keeping notes.  This concept of nice people will come up again.

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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?