Todd Smith on July 14, 2016
By now you’ve probably heard of this new smartphone game, Pokémon Go. The 90s card game has been transformed into a virtual game. In less than a week, Pokémon Go has surpassed Snapchat, Facebook and Whatsapp in the number of daily users, with no sign of slowing down.
What makes this game so special, and subsequently popular, is an exciting new technology called augmented reality–when digital and physical worlds merge into one and our smartphones render this augmented reality through our screens. Pokémon Go is free to download off the Apple and Android App stores. The phenomena is hardly limited to kids; many adults play too.
The other day, I witnessed a 20-something playing Pokémon Go on Darlington Road. An easy tell is looking for people walking aimlessly while glued to their smartphone screens. I learned that the JCC is home to 3 Pokéstops—places where users gather supplies—more than any other place in Squirrel Hill.
I shared the news on our JCC Fan Page. Almost immediately, one person commented that he dropped a lure at the menorah—a lure is place where Pokémon spawn—and for 30 minutes people congregated in front of the JCC.
A comment on the New York Times website by reader Richard Hoover speaks well to this growing sociological effect:
“Having been playing Pokemon Go myself, it’s been quite the interesting sociological observation on how this game has created a community that can bring people together. …Pokemon Go, by encouraging users to get real exercise in the real world, is bringing people together to form a unique community which I feel is very positive.”
Of course, the Community Center enjoys being at center of this community experience. We definitely encourage folks to engage with our Pokéstops and lure more folks to come—just to don’t bring your Pokémon indoors!
Also worth mentioning, one of our Pokéstops is labeled “Holocaust Center.” At one time, the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh was located at the JCC. It has since moved, but for some reason the game has named a Pokéstop after it. We think it’s inappropriate to associate any landmarks dedicated to the Holocaust with a game. A spokesperson at the National Holocaust Museum summed it up best in the Washington Post: “Technology can be an important learning tool, but this game falls far outside of our educational and memorial mission.” We agree 100%.
As our mission is always focused on serving our community, augmented reality is new opportunity for community engagement at the JCC. One question: What role does the JCC play? There are many questions and answers still to come. For now, we will continue to track this growing phenomena. After all, it’s only been a week. We urge everyone to be safe, use good sense and have fun.
Interested in learning about our special Membership offers? Learn More about our Pokémon Gym Memberships!