As it has in millions of households across the world, Pokemon GO has taken our house by storm. My 10-year-old suddenly wants a smartphone and my 13-year-old realises she has to exit her bedroom to become part of the latest phenomenon. So far, so good.
The game had more downloads in its first week than any other app in history. It is, quite frankly, huge, and is showing no signs of slowing down. While Guernsey is normally a bit behind the trail on the latest ‘big things’, it seems to have made it across the Channel with no problems whatsoever. And it isn’t just the teens playing it; far from it. Town at the weekend was full of adults (mainly men) walking with their mobile phone in one hand, head down, in search of Pikachu.
There have been no TV adverts about this game, no full-page colour ads in the nationals. No, it has gained its popularity simply by word of mouth, or the 2016 equivalent – social media. It’s instant, it’s location-agnostic and has a wider reach, in terms of demographics, than any other single form of media.
As expected, and not totally unjustified, there has been criticism of the game and its players. People are walking around with their heads down creating potential danger for themselves and others. Determination to catch the elusive pocket monsters has led to people absent-mindedly wandering in the paths of non-playing shoppers, people going about their daily lives and even cars. But the bottom line is, it’s getting people out having fun in what has been a tumultuous first half of 2016. It even got a 13-year-old girl into the park with her bewildered parents and little brother at the weekend - another resounding win for the worlds of social and digital. Perhaps we should just enjoy it while it lasts.