I’ve gone to Poland to speak at World Youth Day, so, in the meantime, I’ve got a few good posts from my fiancé to recommend. He’s been alternately playing Pokemon Go and writing about the way its reenchanting the city for players.
Even though I’m not playing, I’m still enjoying all the people I run into, and the fact that, unprompted, they’ll tell me if there’s a really cool Pokemon nearby, so I don’t miss it.
Alexi wrote about the way that looking at their phones prompts players to look up at the city for The American Conservative:
PokéStops fight back against the flattening of the cityscape. Players of the game are being trained to orient themselves towards the sort of monuments and “decorations” that ennoble our habitat. The AR [augmented reality] makes more literal the idea (advanced by luminaries like Henry Hope Reed) that luxurious decoration of a public square enriches the city and its people. Perhaps it is a touch absurd to re-learn a communal love of these repositories of art and history because they provide us with virtual goods. But it is better than passing by them heedlessly, as if the city were as bleakly characterless as a modernist’s daydream. Better to be searching the nooks and crannies for monsters, and find civic flourishing along the way.
[E]ven when I ran into a member of a rival team battling mine for control of a Pokémon gym, he volunteered tips and advice on how to play the gym battles. The bright aspirational tone of Pokémon may contribute to this collaborative attitude. The game designers also made it so that players are not competing against each other for Pokémon: There’s no reason not to let another passing player know about a rare Pokémon you spotted, because both of you can catch it without preventing the other from doing so.
And, finally, he wound up pitching some of his skeptical coworkers on the virtue of the app for the First Things podcast, and, in my favorite one, riffing a bit more on how Pokemon/augmented reality fits into various traditions of fantasy writing on the Mike Allen show.
Hope he can keep you entertained while I’m abroad!