I’ve never been much of a video game guy. We’ve never had an XBox or PlayStation in our house. I haven’t played Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja or any of the other billion-download games you can play on your phone. Even when online poker was legal in the US, I only played that sparingly. Okay, there was a time when I memorized the winning pattern for Pac-Man and got through almost all the levels. But I was 23 years old and still drinking a lot of beer.
So you won’t see me walking around while staring at my phone as I play the game that’s creating a ton of buzz this week, Pokemon Go.
I never pick up on fads — mostly because by the time they reach me, the cool people who started the fad have already moved on to something else, but also because I couldn’t care less what the new, popular thing is. I used to have to worry about that when I did a full-time radio show, which demanded that I at least check out the “hot” TV shows and movies and cultural trends so I could sound like I knew what I was talking when I referred to (or made fun of) them on the air.
The silliest thing I’ve seen about Pokemon Go is a warning many media outlets feel they must give consumers about how it’s dangerous to walk around with your head down paying attention to nothing but your phone. Apparently, there have been people playing the game who have walked into traffic or trees or sign posts.
Do you really think issuing a warning is going to have any effect on those people? It’s like the pre-July 4th announcements we get every year about being careful with fireworks (including the idiotic PSA a couple of weeks ago starring NFLer Jason Pierre Paul, who blew off his fingers last year when a device exploded in his hand). The only people who heed those warnings are the ones who weren’t walking into traffic or lighting a cherry bomb in the living room in the first place. The others will only learn by experience, and I’m all for thinning the herd.
Here’s how you know you can’t reach those people. Arlington National Cemetery and The US Holocaust Memorial Museum have had to ask visitors not to walk around on their grounds hunting the virtual Pokemon Go characters. So has the Auschwitz Museum in Poland — because the world still contains people who would stroll around the grounds of a former Nazi concentration camp while happily playing a video game.
If I ran any of those places, I’d show the game-playing visitors outside. And right into traffic.