Mary Wakefield Mary Wakefield

Pokémon Go? I wish it would

Playing Pokémon Go nearly made me lose my mind

Monday morning: one hand trapped beneath the fat and guzzling midget, with the other I idly opened the gates of hell — meaning I downloaded the game Pokémon Go. Pokémon Go is an ‘augmented reality’ game. It requires you to trot about in the real world, staring at your smartphone so as to find and ‘collect’ coloured goblins from different locations. Perhaps that doesn’t sound terribly exciting, but it’s the most successful phone game there’s ever been. On the day I played, more than 75 million people had already downloaded it, and when I first opened it I too became obsessed. A day later, however, I suspect it of being semi-diabolical and portending some terrible but perhaps unavoidable future.

This is the way it works. After selecting the app, a little map of your actual location pops up on the iPhone screen, with markers in the places where goblins lurk. The map tracks your progress as you walk, using your phone’s GPS, and when you’re hard up against a goblin you switch to your phone’s camera function, look at the screen, and there it is! A little cartoon monster, transposed on the real outside world. For the still confused and over40, just imagine living inside Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

When I opened up the app that morning, for example, there in my bathroom was a goblin, a cross one and blue, hopping up and down by the shower. I instantly forgot the baby. This was a wonder, a marvel in the 19th- century sense. It made the world seem magical. As dog-faced boys and bearded women were to Victorians, so that Pokémon imp was to me, and I set about trying to capture it, swiping at my iPhone screen, as instructed by the game.

Some time later, a plaintive mew from lap height.

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