For the past several weeks Pokemon Go has brought thousands of people outdoors to search for Pikachu, Ash, Psyduck and Mew, to name a few. Dozens of people are gathering in public places, discovering buildings, parks and artwork they never knew existed before, talking to neighbors they hadn’t met before and maybe shedding a few pounds in the process! Granted, with hundreds of people swarming the Downtown Park, the craze has created some complaints about late night noise, but overall the civic engagement that has occurred has brought people outside on to the sidewalks to explore their city. While I haven’t yet joined the Pokemon Go community, players I’ve talked to have said they’ve learned more about the city’s parks, artwork and street-scape in the last few weeks than they knew before, even if they’ve lived here for years.
The increase in civic engagement is a plus – more people out on the sidewalks is a good thing, for safety, vibrancy and economic activity, bringing people in to restaurants and coffee shops. Some cities, capitalizing on the craze, are promoting the locations of their PokeStops to bring people outdoors. Remember . . . watch where you’re walking and don’t drive and Pokemon. Its easier (and safer) to spot Pokemon while riding the bus.