A New World – Virtually

Pokemon Go at the Office

Let’s be frank – we go on the Internet at work for a thousand different reasons: checking e-mail, watching YouTube videos, shopping on-line, following your favorite team, the list goes on and on. Companies understand that it’s nearly impossible to enforce policies that prohibit personal computer use during business hours. It’s just a fact of life.

Mobile devices merely compound the electronic chatter …Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. The lure is so compelling that otherwise intelligent individuals actually take their eyes off the road to text – even while traveling at high speeds. Hey, smartphones can’t cure stupidity.

Apparently, we have now crossed over into a relatively new dimension — “augmented reality” – thanks to the Pokémon Go phenomenon. In less than a month, Niantic’s Pokémon Go has eclipsed Candy Crush Saga as the most popular mobile game in US history with roughly 21 million daily users. Don’t be shocked if someone zig-zags past your cubicle in hot pursuit of Dratini or Snorlax. At this rate, Pokémon Go may soon join tobacco on your company’s short list of banned indoor activities.

Though augmented reality (AR) – a combination of real and virtual worlds – isn’t new, never before has the concept captured the imaginations of so many.

“Augmented reality is the ‘boy who cried wolf’ of the post-Internet world,” writes Om Malik in an article for The New Yorker that getAbstract summarized. “It’s long been promised but has rarely been delivered in a satisfying way.”

In case you have been off-grid for the past few weeks, Pokémon Go “trainers” hunt for Pokémon creatures using their smartphones. The free app uses the GPS and camera on your mobile device to place Pokémon in real-life surroundings. Except for the occasional glitch – Pokémon have been spotted at inappropriate locations such as Arlington National Cemetery and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum – the game has been wildly successful.

Skeptics may argue that Pokémon Go is merely the latest craze – here today, gone before you know it. Angry Birds, anyone? But Malik and other observers suspect the Pokémon Go influence may be considerably more substantial. The game promotes interaction and people seem to have a lot of fun – typically not the norm at work. In a recent article from the Society for Human Resource Management, Lynn Taylor, author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job, said the game’s popularity “points to pent-up demand for a more social and motivated workforce.”

On the other hand, Taylor pointed out, the distractions Pokémon Go creates can hamper productivity and may compel employers to establish formal policies regulating game play at the office.

Hmmm. Makes ordering from Amazon seem rather tame by comparison.

%d bloggers like this: