No one walks in LA.
Well, let me rephrase that. Up until this weekend, no one walked in LA. But, this weekend, it seemed as if everyone was.
Why the sudden growth of pedestrians? Because, unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve heard about the release of Pokémon GO, the next installment of the catch ‘em all franchise. The game has been around in various incarnations since 1995, but the newest version has taken over like wildfire. Wildfire started by a Charmander, of course.
Like most ubiquitous mobile games, it’s fun and addictive. But, this one has an added prosocial, proactive (literally) element. It makes you leave your house. Pokémon GO uses geocaching to show you PokéStops (landmarks or art installations near you where you collect items), gyms (where you train and battle with other Pokémon collectors), and Pokémon. (As you can imagine, all this geocaching uses up your battery pretty quickly, so make sure you’re fully charged before heading out.)
When you’re close to a Pokémon, you might see movement in the grass (in the game), your phone may vibrate, or they’ll just spring up. Pokémon GO then activates your phone’s camera to create an Augmented Reality experience that makes it look like you’re capturing the cartoon creatures in the real world. For instance, a Sandshrew showed up inside my local coffeeshop yesterday! I guess he wanted coffee too.
I love that the game rewards me for being active. I always intend to walk more, but since there’s nothing compelling me (outside of feeling guilty for not walking), I don’t. But within Pokémon GO, I have to walk to find Pokémon, walk to reach PokéStops, walk to earn certain badges, and walk to hatch eggs (common creatures require a 2km walk, while rarer ones require a longer trek). Over the weekend, I got caught up in playing and unintentionally walked two miles.
That’s when I saw a mom and her daughter walking around playing, plenty of couples searching for creatures together at the park, and met two people who had also headed to the pool with the hope of finding water creatures. Surprisingly, no luck. But we chatted about how we should head to the beach and look.
Today I need to go to the grocery store at lunch. It’s about a half-mile walk and usually, I’d drive. But, I’m curious about what Pokémon I might find on the way, so I’m going to walk.
Even if gaming isn’t your thing, if you’re looking to find a way to reach those 10,000 steps, I encourage you to try it. Because if nothing else, it’ll likely inspire you to get outside and go for a walk. I’m counting down the hours until lunch.
Good luck and happy hunting.