Because I live in a neighborhood where “One Tree Hill” was filmed back in the day, I’m used to seeing gaggles of mostly German teens merrily aiming their iPhones at houses for a quick picture. Sometimes, because I am super nice, I don’t even scream at them to leave. Sorry. What I meant to say was I ask them if they’d like me to take a picture of the group.
They’re always grateful and I feel that I have done my (very) little bit for international relations. And then I scream at them to leave.
So imagine my shock when I discovered the most recent tourists weren’t even aware they were standing right in front of the basement window where Peyton’s evil twin, who really wasn’t even related to her, was finally captured in Season 4. No, no. They were “catching Pokemons” as one explained. Still assuming they were German, I responded simply “WEINERSCHNIZEL!”
They were confused because, well, they live here, so I apologized for screaming fried meat phrases at them and asked, “But isn’t that something 5-year-olds do?”
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This was greeted with the same piteous look I get from the Princess when I ask her tech questions like “what are tabs?” and “why doesn’t anyone use Zune anymore?”
Turns out, Pokemon Go is a very big deal. The Princess, fresh from a few hours of Pokemon Go-ing with friends at neighboring parks and cemeteries and malls, explained how it works while speaking very slowly and enunciating each syllable. In my mind, I’m the hip mom trying to keep up with all the cool stuff the kids are into. In hers, I come across as someone who is holding an ear trumpet in one hand and rolling bandages for the army hospital with the other.
I nodded as though I understood and excused myself to Google it.
Rolling Stone magazine had all the answers.
“Technically, it’s a free-to-play, location-based, augmented-reality, multiplayer online mobile game that also supports its own custom wearable tech.”
Ugh. Where did I put those bandages?
Mercifully, there followed a more accessible definition: Players look for critters, catch them, train them and battle with them while using their phone’s GPS sensors to turn their neighborhood into a virtual “game board.” Captured Pokemons are trained at a local landmark “Gym” which you must walk to and where you will, no doubt, run into tons of other people who are late for work at Chipotle aiming their phones skyward.
Although it has only been available for a short time now, Pokemon Go has already garnered tons of fans and critics. The former because it forces pudgy diehard gamers to walk outside in the fresh air for the first time since elementary school recess; the latter because you might stumble onto a dead body face down in a ravine while hunting for Pikachu (as one Wyoming teen did). Well. Nothing’s perfect. Except maybe the idea of a “virtual gym.” That’s pretty awesome.