Scores of people of all ages running around the streets, parks and shopping centres of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk – has the message finally got through that exercise is good for you?
Well, no. However, a craze that is hitting Britain and many other countries, is achieving the very thing that countless health ministers, doctors, fitness professionals and personal trainers have failed to do.
“I’ve reached 21,000 steps,” tweets one excited teenager. “Five miles – smashed”, boasts a man in his 30s.
Pokemon Go is the latest craze to capture the imagination and it has divided the population. The idea is simple – it is like stepping into your own virtual world. You have to destroy as many Pokemon figures as possible and they can be anywhere in the environment around you. For example, you might be walking around Alive Leisure and a Pokemon could appear – on your phone screen – lingering on the new tennis courts. It is a virtual world super-imposed over the real world With one flick of your finger on your phone screen and you have zapped him, but no-one in the real world is hurt.
For some reason the idea of people running around and playing games is hugely offensive to some people. The main argument seems to be that adults should not be playing games. This is followed by the criticism that we spend all our lives looking at screens, this is just one more example. Or, the most brief of cutting comments – “Pokemon isn’t real, get a life.”
It is a sad fact that, as a breed, we like to demean the things that others enjoy. It is a snobbery thing. More than that, it is a judgement thing. Who is to say that playing Pokemon Go is any more or less worthy than orienteering – an activity that is widely praised for getting people of all ages and abilities out and about, running from one point to another?
Equally, why is Pokemon culturally inferior to reading a book or watching a film or, for that matter, becoming engrossed in Game of Thrones? None of those activities involves the real world, but they are denigrated and despised.
I have never played Pokemon Go, but I would like to. I am willing to risk the sideways glances and snide comments from people who would like to be killjoys. To my way of thinking, anything that gets people running about, taking thousands of steps without realising it and unites people in a common, harmless and fun cause has to be a good thing.