In the span of a week, the mobile phone game Pokémon Go has surpassed Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp in daily usage time. Hell, it has given Twitter a run for its money and somewhere, someplace, we suspect even Mark Zuckerberg is screaming at people “Why didn’t we think of this?” Pokemon Go has now topped Twitter’s daily users, and people are spending more time playing with this app than they do on Facebook, according to reports from various tracking firms.
But lost in the buzz about the new, free downloadable game app is this: Never mind that your kids or grandkids used to collect Pokémon in the 1990s. This app is great for older people! Here’s why:
1. It gets you moving.
The goal of the game is to capture digital Pokémon characters, which appear in augmented reality hovering over the player’s real-world surroundings.
Although the goal is still to catch Pokémon, they don’t come to you. So you physically have to get up off the couch and go “travel” the world. Yes, it wants you to walk places. Pokémon Go uses your phone’s GPS and clock to decide which Pokémon will appear. If you’re at the park, more bug and grass types appear. If you’re by a lake or ocean, the water ones appear. At night, the nocturnal Pokémon ghosts and fairy types are out and about. But you have to get up and go find them.
Pokémon Go has people walking miles ― and yes, sometimes into walls. So, do be careful out there. The game is highly addictive but staring at your phone while crossing the street is just plain stupid, no matter what your age. The app actually warns you not to get Pokémon-distracted.
2. It keeps you current.
Pokémon is a Nintendo franchise that launched in the 1990s, so at the very least the name will ring a bell. One of the biggest issues facing older people, especially those trying to compete in an intergenerational work force, is that today’s cultural agenda is set by younger people and we sometimes don’t actually know what they are talking about. We feel left out of the conversation and often irrelevant to it. It’s why we frequently have to google what YOLO stands for again and want to be careful with how we use “bae.”
But older people are no strangers to Pokémon. We spent a small fortune buying Pokémon paraphernalia for our kids, still find Pokémon cards in the back of drawers, and know all we need to know about Pikachu ― including how to spell it.
So for the moment, today’s buzz is Pokemon Go. You got this.
3. It’s good for your brain.
While we won’t say that playing solitaire is a bad thing, why not save that for the nights when you can’t sleep. (That or just text us; nobody over 60 sleeps anymore.)
Pokémon Go requires puzzle-solving skills, memory skills, hand-eye coordination skills. This is, after all, a video game.
4. You will get to know more about your city ― and can make money if you own a business.
PokéStops usually exist at easily identifiable landmarks, such as public art installations or other points of interest. Yes, there are some places that aren’t thrilled to have been included in the game. Officials at the Holocaust Museum and Poland’s Auschwitz Memorial are pleading with the Pokémon Go maker Niantic to take their sites off the locations where players can hunt the cartoon creatures, saying it dishonors Holocaust victims.
But there is no denying that the opportunities for businesses to make money are pretty great as well: As Inc.com noted, “As Pokémon Go users traverse their towns in search of Pokémon, local stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and other businesses are capitalizing on this massive opportunity, driving huge amounts of foot traffic and conversions both with simple in-app purchases and creative marketing campaigns.” Basically it means for $1.19 an hour, Pokémons will appear in your store and customers will come in to capture them and likely buy a slice of pizza while they are there.
It’s brilliant when you think about it.
5. You can play this with the grandkids.
Instead of rounding up the usual suspects when the grandkids visit, Pokémon Go is a common turf. You won’t be forced to sit through animated Disney movies and they won’t pretend to be having fun hanging out at the retirement center’s community pool. You can take walks and hunt down Pokémons together!