11 July 2016

Pokémon in real life: biologists catch them all!

Pokémon are back in the news. The property that was a mega-popular trading card game in the late 1990s is back with a new smartphone game, Pokémon Go, that launched last week and is suddenly thing the thing on everyone’s lips.

You are going to read about a zillion hot takes and think pieces about this game, but remember: the Southern Fried Scientist, Andrew Thaler, got there first.

In our afternoon of wandering, it was clear there was no ‘typical’ Pokémon Go player. We saw parents with their kids, young adults, older couples, grandparents, and one gnarly Harley rider who excitedly called to his buddies in the Yorktown Pub “Hold up, I found a Pidgey!” The Colonial Triangle (Yorktown, Jamestown, and Williamsburg) in general is so snow-blindingly white that no one even thinks twice about calling it the Colonial Triangle. Yet, this afternoon was the most diverse gathering of people I’ve ever seen in Yorktown.

Asia Murphy has came up with the idea of creating a pokédex for real organisms. Thus, the #PokemonIRL hashtag was born.

I made mine up at the top, and you can, too! A template is here. You will need a graphics editor and a bit of experience, but you can make one pretty quickly. It’s a cool idea to spread the joy of finding critters, which are just as wild and exotic as any that the Pokémon Company creates.

Additional: The person who created Pokémon was a frustrated insect collector, Satoshi Tajiri (Thanks to Jon Mooallem).

Alex Lee points out that Pokémon is doing a much better job of inspiring kids than nature is. This is perhaps to be expected. To paraphrase Alfred Hitchcock, “A game is life with the dull bits cut out.”

External links

The power of Pokémon Go
#PokémonIRL (blog post) 
Pokémon in real life blank templates
Is ‘Pokémon Go’ Good for science?
If you must play Pokémon Go, ‘catch’ some real animals while you’re at it

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