“Pokemon Go! Beta Test: Should Games Motivate Us To Go Outside?”
Today a new beta has been released for the much anticipated Pokemon Go! In Japan people from young to old are scanning the streets in hopes of catching them all. Around the house or around the block, Pokemon Go encourages players to get out of their house and enjoy their surroundings to “catch ‘em all.”
As a kid I loved playing any and all Pokemon games. I played the black and white version on the brick gray game boy. I played the cards. I was sucked in and still hold out hope that my collection will make me rich some day. Now as they branch out into a new world, I find myself unwilling to continue. My reasoning isn’t because of a poor gameplay system, or uninteresting components, but because of the fundamental reasoning for why I play video games.
Video games are a fun escape for me from the draining “real” world outside my front door. Out there exists a whole world full of responsibilities that I enjoy, but keep entirely separate from my gaming hobby. When I walk out the door with my wife and soon to be three kids in tow, the last thing that I need to be concentrating on is whether or not theres a Mew around the trash can in front of me. My time out of the house is focused on others around me.
Right now my primary game time is at night after my kids go to bed. I sit down in the magnificent glow of my 32 inch and bask in the fun that is about to be had. Aliens, terrorists, and opposing teams fall flat before the mighty skills I do my level best to offer. When I am finished playing, I power down the console until the next night. I don’t know about you, but there are enough things vying for my attention during the day. My phone is a constant buzz of emails and text messages awaiting a reply. My calendar is packed full of appointments and commitments, most of which I enjoy doing. The last thing I need is something else invading my outside time.
Encourage your kids and even yourself to go outside regularly all you want. I agree that we need to be spending less time in front of a screen and more time engaged in the world around us, but taking the games outside defeats much of the purpose. We need only too look to technological faux pas of the past to see that this does not typically work. Google Glass became a creepy unnerving eye into the souls of our common man. Cell phones are generally considered rude to be using in another’s presence. What benefit would there be to adding another unnecessary distraction to an attention dividing culture in which we already live?
Games should motivate us to go outside. They should motivate us to be in the moment. Become your favorite character by picking up your best friend from across the street and become your favorite TMNT or Transformer! That incredible catch you made in Madden? Go try it out in the front yard with your little brother. That wrestling move you did to choke slam Kane as the Undertaker? Okay you get the point, let’s stay safe out there. My point is this. Games are an escape and a motivation to get back out there and engage in the real world. Don’t let games bleed over in an unhealthy way to ostracize those around you who love and care about you deeply.