PokemonGo and Geocaching

How do you get Pikachu and his mates on an already crowded bus?

POKE ‘EM ON!

That there is my full knowledge of what a Pokemon thing is.  I’ve never really watched it, never played it.  Anime and Manga looks pretty cool of course, and as a big time Daft Punk fan I know the works of Leiji Matsumoto who helped them out with the Interstella 5555 movie.  Other than that, zero interest.  That’s changed slightly this week.

A few weeks ago someone suggested that I might be interested in Geocaching.  A few of my friends will confirm, with a face that says “never again” that I like to wander until the body hurts, mostly around London streets.  At this point I’d like to apologise to Jon, Sarah, Simon, Phil and anyone else who’s had the fortune of following me from a few paces behind while I get excited about a sticker or some street art that I’ve spotted and have to speedwalk to.  I’d also like to apologise in advance to Shane and Josh who have this to come when we got to Chernobyl in October.

Back to Geocaching!  If you’ve not heard of it, it comes from Geography and Caching.  It’s an outdoorsy thing kinda like orienteering or treasure hunting, but of course it’s the 21st Century so uses GPS on mobile phones.  I downloaded the Geocaching app to my phone and was amazed how many geocaches were in the area.  Literally hundreds.  I don’t use the word literally unless I literally mean literally.  Literally hundreds.  The first night I popped out to the local lake with a smaller version of an adult, formally known as a child.  We searched high but mainly low and followed the GPS and hints available but to no avail.  The problem was, we had no idea what we were looking for.  What on earth do these things look like?  Geocaches come in a few different shapes and sizes, from tiny magnetic tabs or bolts, through to 35mm film cassettes, tupperware boxes, ration boxes, up to suitcase size!  Some are obvious, some are less so.  Thanks camouflage!

I tried again a few nights later at the Milton Keynes National Bowl.  It looked easy on the phone, but nope.  Even with 2 small versions of adults with me this time, we had no luck. As lovely as the weather is at the moment, it doesn’t help when trying to look behind bushes.  Thorns, nettles and brambles suck (not literally).

Attempt 3 was today and…. SUCCESS!  A tiny little thing near one of our offices in Kent, that I went to find on a lunch break.  It took no more than 4 minutes to find, and I had some help in a full size adult manchild this time (thanks Kam).  We unscrewed the device and completed the log with names and the date, then put it back for someone else to find; job done.

But not quite.  Kam had just that morning downloaded PokemonGo which is practically the same thing but there’s no physical treasure this time.  It’s all about wandering and looking for virtual Pokemon but using the same technology – GPS.  We didn’t have to walk far to find some Pokestops and stocked up on Pokeballs and eggs.  I think I have an egg in an incubator at the moment which would appear to only want to do anything if I walk at least 2km.  I thought this was a game for kids but no, it’s actually a secret fitness app for adults.  Clever Japanese bar stewards!

And that takes me on to another point.  It seems that people want to revert to deciding that anything they don’t understand is worth mocking and belittling.  So many grumpy people on Facebook telling others that they have better things to do than play that silly game.  Erm… you’re on Facebook telling others you have better things to do.  That equates to you having nothing better to do.  Let’s not even start on the idea of grown adults spending time watching “professional sports”, Harry Potter, or Star Wars, then knocking those who play PokemonGo.  Really what I want to say it let’s not knock it til you’ve tried it.

I read the mad stories when PokemonGo was first released in the US and it made little sense but we don’t judge a whole community on the actions of a minority now will we?  It appeared to be some weird craze that stupid people were playing in an attempt to win this year’s Darwin Awards.  But they aren’t stupid.  These are kids, teens, young adults, parents, families, elders, all getting involved in something new and revolutionary (even though Geocaching was invented in 2000) and enjoying spending time out and about with each other.  Just last Saturday I took my better half to her friend’s house 6 miles away and was amazed at the hoards of people roaming the streets and parks looking for small animated creatures.  It was fantastic to see!  Who are these people then who are making this what it is?  I’d imagine a large chunk of the gaming community are heavily involved in this.  I’m not suggesting that gamers don’t go out, but computer games are typically played indoors, right?  If PokemonGo is getting these guys and girls out for some Vitamin D, then GREAT!  I hear stories of people with depression and anxiety who are benefiting from this game and are more comfortable with the world immediately around them. There’s a real buzz about this game right now and I can genuinely see why.

After work tonight I took a stroll of roughly 2km (ssshhh) to find another Geocache but it was in a very busy path on the Kent coastline, surrounded by people who would probably be calling the police to report the weird Welsh dude rummaging around bushes, walls, benches, poles and bins looking for something.  I’ll leave that until another time.  It’s not going anywhere.

Neither is Pokemon.  Time to embrace it fully!

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