This week, I decided to go for one topic on my WWW. Hope you had a great week. Let's talk about Pokemon Go.
I'm sure you've been hearing about Pokemon Go this week. It seemed to come out of nowhere, but between the lovers and haters, it's one of the hottest topics of conversation in my circles this week. Why? It's simple. Pokemon Go is all the rage today because it innovated something from an experiential standpoint on our mobile phones. It combined something nostalgic - Pokemon - with something a bit geeky - geocaching - and created a sensation where people are walking around using their phones to interact with the real world. It's a phenomenon, and I don't think it will last.
I don't want to sound like one of those "The Internet is a fad!" guys who looked completely stupid in hindsight. I do not doubt that this style of app, or something that builds upon it, will continue to thrive, but I don't think Pokemon Go will be the most successful implementation just because it was first. It's a great idea, and it's undoubtedly fun, but Pokemon is too niche for this Nintendo game to become the pinnacle of whatever genre of entertainment venture this will be in the future.
Speaking of the future, I'm obsessed with the concepts introduced by Chuck Klosterman in his new, overly-long titled book, "But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past." In it, he explores the thought that despite what we believe about today, future people will look back at this time and have a very different perspective. In essence, he's asking - and often predicting - what the WikiPedia entry will look like in the future. He applies this concept to classical artists like Beethoven and other highlights that have become the go-to examples of a historical period. Was Shakespeare always the obvious choice to become synonymous with playwrights? Are there more examples like Herman Melville, who died long before Moby Dick became recognized as a classic?
Back to Pokemon Go, I don't think it will be the lasting app that will make us remember when the convergence of video games with the real world occurred. It's the first significant implementation, but I spoke to Brian Spaeth about this recently, and he thought Star Wars was a more interesting fit. I think Star Wars is far more mainstream, so I'd tend to agree as far as other pop culture examples go. I also thought about a company like Nike, FitBit, or maybe a health insurance company that promotes exercise, health, and wellness that would have the incentive to dangle a carrot for more activity.
Speaking of Star Wars, tell me Disney wouldn't like to create a theme-park only version of this to entice more people to come to their worlds and visit the areas of the park they want at certain times. The crowd management implications are almost unlimited to a company that controls a captive audience. That, of course, makes me think of sports.
One of the major issues in sports is continuing to entice fans to purchase tickets and attend contests. Particularly in baseball where you have strike zone overlays on TV, the advent of high definition television has increasingly competed with the live presentation of the games. With this kind of technology, teams that struggle with attendance like the Cleveland Indians and entire leagues could create games within games in which only fans in attendance would be able to participate. It could be some extension of fantasy sports, or photography, or any number of things. I'm sure there's at least a handful of people in the NFL whose ears perked up in the last few days of Pokemon Go news.
I've tried hard to think about what the most interesting implementation would be for me, and I'm still undecided. You can figure out what kinds of brands would want to jump on something like this, and Target's "Cartwheel" app is sneaking into some shopping implementations of this inside their stores already asking users to scan barcodes and then suggesting alternative products that they have on sale. At the end of your shopping trip, they show you your annual savings just like a high score on Ms. Pacman.
So I'll leave it to you. Presuming Pokemon Go isn't your ideal implementation of turning the world around you into a scavenger hunting game, how do you see this playing out. From a Chuck Klosterman perspective, do you think when future people look back at the advent of this period of technology they will remember Pokemon Go?