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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Pokemon Go Biker Gangs

Sal and I both recently got bikes. We haven't had any since we first moved into our house and discovered and our garage door was on the same frequency as someone else's. We discovered this when one Friday, I wandered outside with a beer, saw the door wide open, and both our bikes and scooter taken.

So we have bikes again and are determined to use them. And we had a blast.

Our general rule has been live where you play with our goal being that you park your car on Friday and try not to get back into it until Monday.

We hate driving. We hate when things are so far apart that you have to drive.

We've managed to live this way pretty well for the past 4-5 years. If it's less than a 60 minute walk, we're good with walking. If it's a nice autumn day, we may walk 90 minutes somewhere.



But having bikes has opened up a giant part of the city.

This coincided with a dumb phone game called Pokemon Go coming out. It's a game where you success depends on you getting out of your house, seeing some cool landmarks around you, and going to catch fake creatures in populated areas.

I was never a huge Pokemon fan as a kid, so I wasn't nearly as pumped as 50% of my Facebook friends, but being someone that doesn't like to miss pop-culture phenomenons too often, I figured I'd download it and at least see what this thing is.

We rode our bikes over 30 miles this weekend. It was a new perspective on a lot of our normal haunts. You start noticing buildings you've not before, cool graffiti, cut through roads that make sense on a bike. Hell, you start memorizing street names and get a feel for how the city actually fits together.

We went to Union Loafers for lunch Saturday, road through Dutchtown, down Broadway to Perennial Artisan Ales for afternoon drinks with my brother, then back home for some pizza and board games with friends.

Sunday we woke up early and went to Cafe Osage in the Central West End with our family and then over to Forest Park and the zoo cutting through Tower Grove Park on the way back.

And there were tons of people outside. Groups of 15-35 year olds were wandering as a group, pulling their phone up every few steps to see if new Pokemon jumped up.

Sal and I hung out by a memorial bench in the zoo talking to a 6 year old girl and her mom catching water Pokemon together.

We swapped tips of where rare Pokemon were with a group of 30 year olds wandering from pavilion to pavilion in Tower Grove park.

There were groups of people, laughing, collecting Pokemon, and because the app needs to run for stuff to happen, they were actually having conversations instead of checking their Twitter feeds. This game is bringing back this sense of community that I remember as a kid, but was starting to think it never really existed.

And yes, I heard about the robbery in Ofallon. And yes, someone did stumble upon a dead body while searching for Pokemon. (CNN Story of both, be warned, it has an auto-play video)

Guess what, when you leave your fortress and go outside, you might scrap your knee, you might get robbed or hit by a car, and you might see some really cool stuff in your city.

It's like the news channels are trying to scare people back inside to watch more news and sell more advertising or something.

But I've also seen the positive. Besides people getting out and talking to their neighbors I've seen Pokemon forums suggesting litter pickup days while searching for Pokemon. I've seen people suggest charity events. I've seen people post testimonials about how they were depressed and just couldn't find a reason to leave the house. And I've seen people say this is the most exercise they've had in years.

Yeah, Pokemon Go is an overall broken and dumb game. But it's getting people to do stuff they haven't done since basically the internet became widespread, and that to me is pretty cool.


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