Life in the time of Pokemon Go

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BRIAN C. GOZUN

BRIAN C. GOZUN

Newsfeeds, tweets and posts have been gory lately. The recent attacks in Iran, France, and Turkey as well as the daily local headlines and dose of deaths brought about by drugs, despair, and destruction have all made us crude and callous and, worse, numb to all that is happening. The oft-stated “May you live in interesting times” has truly lived up to its self-fulfilling prophecy as a curse. We are truly living in such interesting times that our country has decided for change to come, when countries such as the United Kingdom leave the European Union voluntarily and some countries do not want to leave occupied territories in spite of rulings and tribulations. However, we simply can’t be resigned to what is happening. What can we do and how can we make the world a much better place?

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The answers to such questions are complex. Tthere is simply no one best way to solve these pressing problems but some answers might be found in the currently most popular app in the world, which is Pokemon Go. Though trivial and expecting to receive a lot of flak for even mentioning Pokemon Go vis-à-vis terrorism, I would like to see some clarity in the mundane and some cuteness in the grotesque through Pokemon Go. How life in the time of Pokemon Go might make us more empathic, humble, compassionate and conscionable (as stated in the op-ed of Allison Arieff in the New York Times titled “Are We Solving the Wrong Problems”) to make this crazy world a little more bearable.

“Gotta catch ‘em all” is what Pokemon is all about but let me rephrase it to something closer to my heart as an educator, i.e. “Gotta teach ‘em all.” As an educator, our role in society is to try to make learners become better every day by making each and every student a little more knowledgeable. Sad to say, a majority of the problems that we are experiencing is brought about by our inability to critically think. Ignorance is definitely not bliss and we as influencers in schools, homes, offices or our communities must make sure that we impart learning by critically thinking before we act because what we do impacts others around us.

Once Pokemon Go is loaded in our mobile phones we have to customize our “trainers” where they gain experience and be better at catching those pesky yet perky pocket monsters. This app does not come with an instruction manual which is similar to what we have in our lives. Just like in life and love, we have to learn to catch what we want whether it be a long-awaited job promotion or a Pikachu Pokemon (or a CharizardPokemon which brings about dragon kickass realness). As we play Pokemon Go, we will not definitely catch all the Pokemons we see but we become more resilient in our quest for goals beyond augmented reality (AR).

Pokemon Go, to date, is the most successful game that uses AR. This game has made people move around and actually go out of their houses, and smell the roses while battling in pokemon gyms (which are virtual arenas). AR is an innovation that can improve, among other things, the facilitation of education and training. With AR, one can learn with virtual mentors and peers when they are not physically available and learning can be more fun since gamification can bring about added knowledge not learned through traditional media. We go back to learning because with knowledge comes great responsibility. An increase in knowledge would bring about a reduction of ignorance and with such learned individuals who can think critically and creatively, who can communicate and collaborate without pride and prejudice, we would have a world filled with empathy, humility, and compassion both here on earth and Pikachu Land.

Brian Gozun (brian.gozun@dlsu.edu.ph) is associate professor at the Decision Sciences and Innovation Depatment of the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, De La Salle University Manila. Aside from thinking about Pikachu and friends, he is currently doing his postdoctoral fellowship on crisis management and innovation at the Innova Institute, La Salle—Ramon Llull University Barcelona. The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of De La Salle University, its faculty and administrators.

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