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Commentary: Adults playing video games

Long ago I admitted to being behind the curve in technology and a general stick-in-the-mud about some of the crazy stuff whirling around me. My recent views on why in the world NASA is trying to develop a strain of potatoes that would grow on Mars is an example.

Well, here’s another. Since July 6th, there is a new electronics game called Pokémon Go that people play on their smartphones while walking around or "shuffling about haphazardly, their zombie eyes fixed on glowing phone screens" as TIME Magazine reported it. As I understand the game, you can get free apps for your phone or buy apps for more advanced games, that send you to public places in search of Pokémon characters (like ostriches, eggs, dragons, etc.) that pop up on your screen as characters in the landscape in front of you, then you push a button and capture them and move on to the next one. And you keep score. It can be done in teams in a competition. There are even Pokémon leagues.

Pokémon players are seen wandering down sidewalks or across traffic lanes, faces in their phones, bumping into one another, almost getting hit by cars, looking for the little characters to show up. These are mostly young adults who have grown up playing video games only now they are playing outside on their phones.

These searches have led game players to some strange places. One girl in Wyoming ran across a dead body in her hunt and a man in Massachusetts found crowds of unwanted company on his front step when his home was designated as a prime gathering spot. But there have been benefits in addition to the thrill of the chase: meeting new friends, having a reason to get outside and exercise, exploring parks, museums, monuments and parents finding new ways to play with their kids.

Though there are over 21 million daily Pokémon players at the present time, and Nintendo stock is climbing dramatically, I predict the Pokémon craze is just a fad and will be largely forgotten in a year.

Can you imagine a flock of Pokémon players coming into a public park where some old guys are pitching horseshoes and the two groups stopping, staring at one another and shaking their heads in wonderment?

But those of us behind the curve of technology should recognize that the world around us is changing rapidly and new methods of working and playing are being developed everyday.

Young adults and old adults need fun in their lives the same as children do to stay happy, healthy and well adjusted. There will always be a place for horseshoes, golf, bridge, pool, square dancing and polkas even while the kids dance to Dabbing and Nae Nae, listen to the "poetry" of rappers, wear virtual reality goggles, play chess against computers and follow their phones down the streets, across busy intersections and into the parks in search of ostriches, eggs, pumpkins and dragons.

Note: I got a very nice letter from a reader in Idaho about my "If These Walls Could Talk" article that I intended to answer. But the letter fell through the cracks and was lost. If she sends me her address again, I would like to respond.