So last night, Pokemon Go arrived in the UK, to great fanfare. But I need to ‘fess up now.
Pokemon is not my bag.
Technically, at 51, I’m too old.
When it was launched in 1995, I’d already hit 30 and was at that time OCD fixated on Tetris, but that’s another story.
I’ve got an addictive personality you see and I can remember, vividly, childhood fixations with amusement arcades up to about the age of 11 and then 4 years of “Space Invaders” obsession – the Taito version found in the local leisure centre.
I got so good that 10p would last ages and I discovered that the spaceships’ worth increased if you kept a tally of bullets fired and stuck to 21 on the first round and 15 subsequently.
Yes I was that sad and still am.
But I digress into halcyon days of the last 70s.
My son, like every other kid in the world, went through a Pokemon phase, as has my daughter.
But Pokemon Go is a new smartphone app.
It’s ingenious, to be honest.
Once you’ve registered using a Gmail account, you can pick an avatar (limited choice, no 51 year olds with grey hair and false teeth leaped out at me, so I went for a Manga sort of look).
I then caught one Pokemon, Squirtle, without leaving the sofa, but there’s no others nearby.
How do I know?
The app tells me.
It shows Pokemon and marks their distance with what I presume is a footprint scale from zero to three.
The app shows your area, it cleverly uses GPS to show roads, but as we’re on a new build, Pokemon characters seem to have not been directed to the estate despite Persimmon’s little yellow Bluebell Meadow signs dotted around Yarmouth.
They’re probably wise too, the sand on the estate would annoy them along with the high thermal qualities of the house. They’d have to shed some fur and weight to survive on or in homes on the estate.
The greatest aspect of the whole concept and one, to be fair, I only picked up on via Facebook, is that unlike most concepts (except Nintendo’s Wii and Wii Fit board) this game requires you to move.
So last night my son decided he wanted to jog with his mum to find Pokemon, only to be stumped by his data allowance depletion and this morning my daughter insisted on walking to school with my iPhone worryingly in her pocket with the app running, whilst she scootered.
Eight were classed as nearby en route and I missed one when the phone handily vibrated in her pocket.
The other seven were always three points away.
So as I kissed her goodbye (cheeks not lips, Mrs Beckham), I turned for home with iPhone opened and a buzz alerted me to a Pokemon close.
It was Pidgey, a Normal / Flying type and I bagged it proudly.
The best thing is though that my daughter on parting asked “Can we walk home tonight?” and for that I applaud Nintendo.
Pokemon Go is a marketing and lifestyle triumph in one free app.
Back later, off to catch more in historic Great Yarmouth.