With every phenomenon there is hype and inevitably, the media will exorcise the most vile, painful occurrences and report them. Car accidents, muggings, and other inhumane actions occur all the time. It’s just that in the past couple of weeks, they have been the result of a few inattentive or too attentive Pokémon Go players. Some of us are led to believe that this is a crazy, unsafe fad.
I’m not going there.
Where I am going however is throughout my neighborhood and my city on foot. I can rack up 10,000 steps in a snap while safely chasing wild spearows, flareons, and poliwags. My sons and I have put out lures and taken night time walks in order to fill our pokédex.
Despite its ability to get people moving and a pretty brilliant technology that has plenty of other applications just waiting to be discovered, what I have most enjoyed about this game is that it is in large part based upon public art. The pokéstops where we go to collect potions, eggs, and poké balls are typically at a place of public art that frankly, I have passed many times before but had not taken time to notice. There is the dedication plaque on the building where I work and the bronze frogs in the fountain. There are fake cactus cell towers and a cat carved into the roofline of the mercado building. There are wall murals oozing with color and details that have been presented to the public in the form of this game.
Local First Arizona jumped onto the platform early by identifying local independent businesses that are also pokéstops. Smart civic leaders are using this game as a way to drive civic engagement. What could be better than getting people out and moving and appreciating the intricate details of a city? In the local city of Maricopa, one avid pokémon trainer won the battle at the Maricopa City Hall gym on behalf of the Mayor who is running for re-election.
Our local hospital is using the game in the children’s area to get kids up and moving post surgical procedure. Yes, it’s a game and yes, there have been some misuses as there are with many things. But I am appreciative of this clever idea to bring attention to the finer details of our civic spaces and I am becoming aware of just how rich my community is in public art.
Have you played?