THOUGHTS N FEELINGS

Wherever You Go, There You Pokemon Are

This past weekend, upon ascending the escalator at Pershing Square Metro Station, I spotted two BID safety officers jogging along 5th St, phones in hand, seemingly in hot pursuit yet eyes peeled to their smartphone screens.  On Monday, I watched a woman trip and fall on the sidewalk by 9th and Broadway, her phone flying out of her hand and falling to the ground. Yesterday afternoon on Traction Ave, a large group of teens were hanging out, or should I say, were glued to their phones briskly walking around the Arts District. What seems to be the pervading distraction? Pokemon, of course. Accelerating smartphone-based oblivion like never before, Pokemon Go has taken cities and spaces by storm in the past week. It's our first major glimpse into the effects of geo-based virtual reality gaming. Stories are flooding the internet of people catching Pokemon in unwanted private spaces and places of particular sensitivity, as well as ways it's supporting small businesses and getting people to enjoy the outdoors. While I'm curious as to how long this Pokemon Go fad will last, I realize the intersection of technology, gaming, and the public realm has only just begun.

- Ari Simon

(image via FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

(image via FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)