Even if you don’t play Pokémon Go, you probably have heard that it’s taking over the US (and the World) since its recent debut. It’s a game app in which you walk around to capture virtual monsters using your phone. It combines “the mobility of the Game Boy, the physical fun and exercise of the Wii and the exciting new experience of location-based augmented reality 1”.

I went to the dark side, joining my husband and my kids in hunting for wild Pokémon (Pocket Monsters).

We, as a family, went on several outings to local parks for Pokémon hunts. The boys rode their bike in our neighborhood for the first time in years just to search for monsters and we met many neighbors we’ve never seen before. We exchanged tips and tricks on how to quickly level up our characters and which places are best places for finding Pokémon and then compared the unique monsters that we captured. It’s a wonderful all-inclusive, family and social bonding activity. We are part of the global Pokémon Go craze!

In the middle of intensive Pokémon hunting, I got an unknown friend request.

It took me a while to remember that she was a colleague of mine when I worked at KPMG 20 years ago. Min Min connected with me via Facebook and we started chatting online. Unknown to me, she is an avid hiker and photographer. Like me, she also uses her phones to capture pictures of wildlife. She too needs to pay attention to discover them on her hiking trails. She captures beautiful images of frogs, grasshoppers, butterflies, birds and the like. She is also in the hunt, but she has great fun capturing non-virtual monsters rather than computer generated ones.

Both of us are in the hunt in different ways. She completely emerges herself into the real world, while I view the world with a touch of augmented reality.

She relies on serendipity to find her monsters, while I use the app and Pokevision (a website to tell you the specific locations of monsters near you).

When I stop by a place to capture monsters, I look up on my phone. When she stops by a place, she looks down into the grass, between stones and trees.

Images by Min Min Chung

Images by Min Min Chung

Here is the biggest difference: I rush from place to place to capture as many monsters as possible and strive to move up my level as high as possible in the shortest period. She slows down, takes her time to find her monsters and enjoys the scenery along the way.

After e-chatting with her and checking out her wonderful photos on FB, I decided to take a break from Pokemon Go. Plus, my eyes hurt from looking at the tiny screen all the time. For the first time in about a month, I am going to the park….just to go to the park. Life is not about virtual or augmented reality, but a reality to be experienced and embraced. It’s time to be present in the real world and rediscover the real wildlife around me.

Note: It was great connecting with you again, Min Min. We will go hiking together when we meet again.

Footnote 1: Pokémon Go and the Power of Social Influence quote from Jeremy Worker

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