Almanac Gaming: Go Pokémon Go!



If you haven’t come across players of this global sensation, then you probably need to get out more often!  No longer can I drift down the bike track in a day-dream whilst I listen to a podcast, I now stay on high alert for screen-obsessed Pokémon Go players.

Around the planet, people are not only connecting with these imaginary creatures, but they are connecting with each other and their local communities.  It is obsessively stimulating and there can be down-sides; where people have died, been robbed or even uncovered corpses while playing the game.  However, with Pokémon Go parties on offer, there have also undoubtedly been plenty of romances initiated whilst playing the game.  The Pokémon Go app is now more popular than the Tinder app, and the mind boggles about the prospect of these two ever joining forces!

It would be foolish not to stop and think for a moment about what this phenomenon is telling us.  For those of us with an involvement in the sports and physical recreation space there are some big call-outs as I see it.

Time to play

The persistent cry of a ‘time poor society’ who has No Time to Play is well and truly debunked in my opinion.  Millions of people have found countless hours to play this game, proving to me that people in modern societies still have time for activities that push their buttons.  As a sports provider, if you are not getting enough ‘facetime’, then you are simply not interesting; so stop blaming a ‘time poor society’.

It’s completely free

The game is free to download, there are no monetary prizes, and it’s one of the hottest things on the planet.  It not only comprises the key gamer success factors of immersion, fascination, progression, reward and mastery; but it fosters physical connections between real people and their local communities.

Teams and tribes matter

We are essentially tribal creatures and Pokémon Go has tapped into this psyche by creating teams that players can be passionate about.  Humans need to commune, connect and be recognised by others. Clubs and communities, like Pokémon Go, facilitate this based around a shared interest, pursuit or activity.  Life really is better when shared and supported by others, and Pokémon Go is providing a valuable lesson for those sports and activities that are obsessed by individual performance.

The real sixth sense

The smartphone has become the new sixth sense and humans now depend on them as a key and convenient interface between their physical and virtual worlds.   When you stop to think about it, the simplest fact of speaking on a phone provided a remarkable ‘virtual’ experience for Alexander Bell and Thomas Watson when they made the world’s first phone call over 130 years ago.

Exercise is simply boring to lots of us

A colleague of mine has a 4 year old who dragged him on a 9 km walk playing Pokémon Go last weekend, and it was the 4-year-old leading his Dad the entire way!  With the legions of phone obsessed people out on the walking tracks, clearly there is a large portion of the population who don’t exercise regularly because they find it boring.  They now have organised Pokémon Go walks, events and ‘trainers’ to get them off the couch and outside exercising.

A new lens

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) is a juggernaut that will not be stopped; and it is going to be an exciting ride in my opinion.  Not only will this be fun, but AR/VR will be an economic powerhouse in ways that we cannot imagine.  I am staggered by how quickly the entrepreneurial spirit flourishes when stimulated, and Pokémon Go has created millions of little business ideas overnight.


So the challenge is well and truly out there. Sport and physical recreation has been fighting a losing battle against screen fascination, and the health of our modern societies has been a major casualty.  Like Angry Birds and Candy Crush, the phenomenon of Pokémon Go will probably wane in time, but it will be replaced by legions of brilliant new ideas that build on its success.

Traditional sports need to watch and learn to make sure they get a piece of the action.


About Peter Robertson

Born and bred in Eumundi and Nambour, in strong company indeed. After studying Maths and Physics at uni in Brisbane, I pursued a business career that I sometimes worry is best described as 'Jack of all trades - master of none'. Having safely made it to my mid 50's, I am still yet to have a real job - but I expect to grow up someday. My love of sport has never waned and I regularly play tennis, golf and surf. Other pursuits include fly fishing and trekking. I have been serving on a few private and NFP boards in sports and other areas to keep me out of mischief.


  1. Too much has been written about people having accidents while playing Pokemon Go, but not much has been said about the potential health benefits. If people increase the distance they walk every day (even by a small amount) then the effect on the health of the population will be huge for the myriad diseases associated with a sedentary lifestyle.

    My office is within range of a Pokestop that often has active lures, but I still get out hunting Pokemon in the great outdoors because I gotta catch ’em all.

  2. E.regnans says

    Love it, Robbo.
    Love the thinking.

  3. Rick Kane says

    Thanks Robbo for a pro Pokemon Go article. At its most basic is an activity that is stimulating and fun for participants, that doesn’t hurt or offend anyone. It’s not my thing but I really do like the way people (for who it is their thing) have taken to it without regard for cool or hip. Go for it I say.


  4. Yvette wroby says

    I have been part of this for the last week in Japan . I find it easier to walk here at night because like New York there are so many people out doing the same. What I have seen is so many people of all ages out and about, thousands going to parks and other areas where poke stops have lures that draw people to them. My daughter has walked more this week than she has ever before without particular destinations. Instead of sedentary games like game boy she is out and about. I was actually thinking of writing about it but u have done so beautifully. My one observation is that people are very screen focused but the opposite is true too, people are in groups and families. Young children play , grandparents play. I have been handed the phone several times to throw balls and catch Pokemon and have photos , those daggy ones with my hands around a particular Pokemon to remember times and places. It is so weird and fascinating .

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