Me at Evangel writing this blog. You can see the action right around us, with many Pokestops and Pokegymns, and always people milling around those locations.
There are really two reasons why I'm excited above Pokemon Go, and usually have the app turned on when I’m walking around town:
I. Myriads of people have come out to play.
Our city has been dreaming big dreams around making the downtown really pop. One of the main agendas? Getting pedestrians out into the streets! And boom, a little app on the iPhone does it. Sara and I have been living downtown for four months, and the change is actually almost unbelievable. Where Centennial Park (our main city green space) more often than not felt like "Needle Park" (Eastside Vancouver), now it’s not unusual to see 50 people milling around at any time of day or night, catching Pokemons, laughing, talking, walking hand in hand with small children, and just hanging out together.
This phenomena (because it is just that) is pushing against business as usual in this small-town Canadian culture: get up in the morning, jump in the car, open the garage door, drive to work, experience mostly superficial interactions with others, go home after work, open garage door, park, shut the world out until the cycle repeats the next day. Though this is the norm in our culture, it is devastating on a social, community level.
For the past month, people have been breaking away from that cycle and getting out of their cocoons.
If this were the only benefit of Pokemon Go, I’d give it a big green light. But there’s more.
In one foul swoop, Niantic (the software development company behind Pokemon Go) has created a powerful and effective virtual Third Space. If you haven’t been apart of this latest reformation in how we do community, Third Places are those spaces in life that are neither work, nor home, but vital for human wellbeing and community, where we interact with others, laugh, enjoy life, and interact socially.
Yes, Pokemon Go’ers are often looking down, tied to their iPhone screens, but the game is undeniably also a hotbed for social interaction. Since Sara and I have started playing, we’ve had conversations with countless people, meeting many for the first time: dad’s pushing strollers, young adults converging at a Pokestop, business women on coffee break (skirts, high-heels, and sitting in a children’s playground - true story), empty-nesters hanging out together on a poke-date, teenagers, young and old, rich and poor. It’s amazing, and in case you haven’t noticed, the atmosphere in your small-town (or city) is definitely experiencing a shift.
II. It’s a buttload of fun.
There, I said it. I’m a professional in Fort St. John and I actually like this game.
And that might be a good enough reason to get in on the action. You need to enjoy life more. For the first time ever, virtual reality and reality overlap (coined "augmented reality") in a game-changing way, and it’s a blast.
If you’re part of Evangel, here’s a few reasons why you might want to consider engaging:
1). You could use a little fun (and exercise) in your life.
You can definitely go overboard with this, so set some boundaries. Do it with your kids, make it family-centred. If you’re out at 3am catching pokemons while your family is sound asleep and work beckons at 5am, it’s gotten out of balance. Walk in accountability if internet usage or gaming has been addiction in the past.
2). You could use some common ground with people outside your church community.
I don’t want to make this over-spiritual, but have to say this: for those that live out their faith with a sense of mission (need to share this thing with others), remember that "mission" starts with simply finding common ground with people, not preaching from a soapbox. If indeed your mission in life is to be “light”, to warm up your city (Evangel lives with this as a compelling purpose for existence), it starts with being present. Walk streets. Go to coffee shops. Smile. Make small talk. Show up at your job (full of joy and enthusiasm, for real). Get outside! Go to the library.
If you can be motivated to be present without the game, awesome. My experience is that the app helps take me there.