A wild Pokémon Go appeared and messed with my employees’ minds!
A Millennial in business attire is staring at the screen of his smartphone as he walks down Broad Street in New York’s Financial District. He appears to be reading an email. He suddenly stops, hastily flicks his screen and does this for the next several minutes.
No, he is not responding to an urgent email, he is playing Pokémon Go and appears to have found what those intent on “catching them all” call a PokéStop.
In the last couple of days, this has been a common scene on various streets across the USA. But what’s the big deal about it?
Pokémon Go, Nintendo’s mobile game app, has added billions of dollars to the company’s market cap in the past week. According to Reuters, it’s already been installed on more than 5 percent of active Android devices in USA, which makes it more popular than Tinder. The number of its daily active users is already larger than that of Twitter, with time spent in-app at around 43 minutes. This is more time than people spend on Instagram.
Nintendo actually hasn’t done anything “big” since 1983. Its first long-awaited venture in mobile gaming made their shares soar again on Monday, bringing market-value gains to $7.5 billion in just two days.
Nintendo's mobile strategy:
2008: what's an iPhone
2010: what's an Android
2014: still no
2016: change how society functions
— Aaron Levie (@levie) July 11, 2016
If you haven’t played “Pokémon Go”, here’s the gist of it: the game combines two popular technologies – geolocation and augmented reality. Accurate maps locate your character in a Pokémon–ized version of the world. Once you encounter a wild Pokémon, AR overlays them into your phone’s camera and you are catching a Pokémon only you can see.
So far, there haven’t really been any successful examples of games that use augmented reality, though many have tried (see this Ghostbusters example from 2012). Usually it was server issues and poor quality cameras that kept them from taking off, not to mention the fact that most people didn’t seem interested in waving their phones around in the air.
Flashback 17-18 years and think about Pokémon at the time. The original games had just come to the U.S., the anime (and its catchy theme song) were all over the TV. The franchise had well-designed characters with silly yet catchy names and it begged fans to catch them all. At the time, you were probably a parent with young, passionate kids who were playing it on their Game Boy Color or collecting the cards. Pokémon were everywhere.
The same kids are now Millennial adults who own smartphones and account for the increasing percentage of workforce in almost every industry. They are also ready to dive back into an addictive collector’s world to relive their youth.
This Monday morning, Pokémon Go has dominated discussion in almost every office. Causing distraction at work is one of the major downsides of the game, aside from the fact that the game can facilitate some unsafe and disturbing situations. But how big of a distraction is it really and how should you deal with its increasing popularity among young employees?
First off, do not worry, addictive games come and go. This one is a minor work distraction, but on the bright side, it’s bringing people together. While most video games involve solitary play, “Pokémon Go” forces players to go out into their combined virtual reality and real world. Naturally, seeing a bunch of people gather in groups to play a silly game on their phones gets people talking because it’s much more fun when you’re walking around searching for creatures with someone else. We at WorkPuls also went to lunch together and hit a few PokéStops on the way. At the office it’s not too distracting and offers a unique opportunity for all to go out and do the same thing for lunch. It’s getting people outside and moving; increasing beneficial physical activity and fostering fun and playful interaction with others.
The only thing you should be concerned or careful about is your employees disappearing every 10 minutes to catch a Nidoran or a similar pesky creature. If this is the case, things are getting out of control.