Unless you’ve spent the last few months counting penguins in Antarctica, you will have recognised that a new location-based augmented reality mobile game has swept the planet. It is called Pokémon Go.
The game has caused devotees to swarm at various locations in order to play. They seek out fictional creatures that hide in real world settings and chuck Poké balls at them. They also visit Poké Stops and Pokémon Gyms in an effort to collect and increase their combat power. However, fans can also collect water bombs. These are thrown by those fed up with them Pokemoning on private door steps. They can also be collected by the fenders of fast moving cars as they move about streets distracted by their phones.
I’m not going to join the lemon-mouthed ranks of the critics of Pokémon Go. Any activity that encourages people to get out of an armchair, interact with their local area and make connections with others, can’t be all bad. That said, I’ve encouraged my boys not to play it if they are meant to be conjugating verbs, finding the value of ‘x’ or learning the properties of H2SO4. Just saying.
Pokémon Go involves creating an Avatar of yourself, then exploring your local area using a map on your mobile phone or by use of the camera facility. Weird creatures emerge such as the double-headed ‘Doduo’. These creatures must be captured. At Level Five, players join either the Valor team (red), Mystic Team (blue) or Instinct Team (yellow) and go on escapades to take control of various ‘gyms’.
The game is free-to-pay, but has a commercial angle that allows the purchase of extra ammo – or Poké Balls you can throw. The goal is to complete all the entries in the Pokédex – a type of post-modern stamp album, and to capture the original 151 Pokémon.
All this is fun but … even in possession of 151, your grandmother’s fruitcake is not going to taste any better and your life is not going to be substantially improved.
So – while not wanting to bag out Pokémon Go, I did take the opportunity at the start of this term to encourage Kingsmen to search their neighbourhood and build up their ‘cultural power’ by capturing experiences that enrich and edify.
I encouraged them to seek their soul and to capture sights and sounds that thrill and enrich. The beast that I also want my boys to catch is the PAM.
To capture a PAM, three tasks have to be completed. These are:
- Find a favourite poem and learn about it. Who wrote it? Why? What’s it about? Then – learn the first verse of the poem. Polish it until it is of serious ‘show off’ quality.
- Select your favourite painting. Again, research it. Who painted it? Why? What’s it about? Then – find out where it currently can be seen. (People will so think you’ve actually been there!)
- Decide what your favourite bit of classical music is. Who wrote it? Why? Then whack it on your phone and share it with others while waving your hands about as a conductor.
Poem. Art. Music. PAM. These sorts of things are also worth searching for.