Last week, I was walking through Centerway Square checking email on my phone when a stranger asked if I’ve found anything interesting. That question was so broad, I thought I was in one of those movies where the protagonist unsuspectingly swaps briefcases in the middle of a money drop. I stopped and sort of scanned the Square for a camera crew. When I saw none, I smiled and said, “…what?”
“Are you playing Pokémon Go,” he asked excitedly?
I will save the suspense and tell you now that I was not, in fact, playing Pokémon Go (Po-Go, for short). Actually, I was equally as eager to quell his excitement so I gave him the same answer right away: “No.” As I kept walking, I laughed under my breath like a pretentious person who thinks anything other than my own activity is stupid. “People are still playing Pokémon Go?! psshhhaha,” – or something like that.
It was less than 10 days before I was put in my place for being dismissive – usually it takes a little longer than that. But here I am eating crow and telling the world (of Urban Corning) that Pokémon Go is still going strong and it’s going to get even stronger this weekend.
For the record, my own co-worker wrote a blog post last year where he said that the game is not a fad, calling it a “social and cultural phenomenon” to which everyone in the marketing and business worlds should be paying attention. I guess I’ll listen to him more often.
Anyways, here’s the 10,000-foot view of what’s happening this weekend: there’s a giant Pokémon Go gathering in Chicago on Saturday (July 22) from 12pm to 8pm EST. New characters and other updates in the game will be released, and these updates will affect players all over the world. While this gathering is taking place in Chicago, other central hubs for game players will be wildly active – and Corning’s Gaffer District is one of those central hubs.
So, what does it all mean?
Expect lots of people on Saturday (and in the foreseeable future) to walk around Market Street staring at their phones and randomly stopping along the way to capture virtual characters. Take it from me: do not criticize these people unless you’ve never walked down Market Street staring at your phone to check email, Facebook, or anything else… I learned my lesson and now I’m sharing it with you.
Also, expect these people to have basic human needs like hunger, thirst, and shelter. While many of them hang out in Centerway Square, they eventually wander into businesses to spend real, hard-earned, American dollars. In fact, several businesses have already announced they’ll be dropping “lures” to attract players on Saturday – including The Rockwell Museum and Exhibit A.
And last, but not least: let’s all make sure no one wanders into traffic without looking up from their smart phones. This goes for Pokémon players and email-checkers alike. Have fun out there!