Legally obligated to talk about Pokemon

Pursuant to the “Mandatory Media Coverage of Pop Culture, Digital Ephemera and Innovations in the Production & Application of Concrete Act” passed by Congress in 2010 I am hereby required to use these column inches to disseminate pertinent information to the public regarding the release and subsequent mass adoption of a new Pokemon video game.

Don’t ask me how those concrete guys sneaked into the bill; concrete’s lobby must make the US Chamber of Commerce look like the National Alliance to Save Radioshack.

Pokemon initially consisted of two video games created by a man named Satoshi Tajiri, inspired by his favorite childhood pastime: insect collecting.

You know, like all the kids do.

Today Satoshi Tajiri is worth roughly $5 billion.

I used to collect rocks when I was a kid, it never occurred to me that my childhood hobby could be a foundation for a video game empire; now I just collect student loan past-due reminders.

The most recent development in all things Pokemon is “Pokemon Go,” a video game for your smartphone where you wander around your actual city, looking through your phone’s camera, following digital symbols until you find a new Pokemon to capture. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Due to the game’s incredible popularity and the fact that you can screenshot an appearing Pokemon superimposed against a variety of hilarious real-world backgrounds the entirety of the media (mass, social, old, new, both main AND lame stream) has devoted so much coverage to the game and all its facets, both real and hysterically imagined, that one would assume that we’ll be hearing the opening speech of the Republican National Convention delivered by Charizard.

Charizard is the name of a pokemon; they all have goofy names as they are designed for children.

With the July 6th release of “Pokemon Go” a whole new generation of players are able to experience the joys of wandering their city aimlessly while the same old generation of TV anchors get to start their broadcasts with “What is the deal with all these Pokemon?”

TV anchors and their stale 90’s standup openers aside, this last week has seen a predictable cycle of stories flow from the media about this “out of nowhere success” that came from a 20 year-old, multibillion-dollar entertainment conglomerate.

First: What’s a Pokemon?

I remember “The Simpsons” making jokes about Pokemon in 2001; back then it took months of writing, editing, voice acting and slave labor animators to create one episode so it wasn’t exactly a “bleeding edge” reference.

That was 15 years ago.

Regardless of your opinion or depth of interest in Pokemon, just being awake in America at any point in the last 20 years should have given you the basics.

Second: Money!!!!

Now the story is big enough that the financial guys feel the need to weigh in. “Pokemon Go” added intellectual property co-owners Nintendo a cool $7.5 billion to their total market value.

Why do I know that? Don’t get me wrong; I’m happy the guys who gave us Mario are doing well and will continue to produce one good game every couple years, but I don’t often find myself interested in total market value. Yet, here we are, with more and more stories being written by those in bewildered awe of the enigmatic relationship between a well-made product and commercial success.

What’s so confusing? They did a good job and made a successful, profitable game, how is that surprising? I don’t want to get too “Iowa” here but “if you build it, they will come.”

Third: Wacky, off-demo stories.

The core demographic for “Pokemon Go” is children, but there are quite a few adults that play it too. So after the initial feigned shock at its success, and after sifting through the financials with an eye for profit, the next step is to start reporting stories about adults playing a children’s game, often while in adult situations.

Just recently I read a story about a man who tweeted a pic of him playing “Pokemon Go” while his wife was in labor, and another about a guy who took a pic of a Pokemon he found in his tanning bed, and this week the New York Post ran the headline “I got caught cheating through Pokemon Go.”

Blech.

Don’t these reporters work for the same media corporations that repackage our favorite childhood stories and sell them back to us every five years? Hey, did anybody see the latest “Ninja Turtles” movie? Are you going to see the new “Ghostbusters?” The notion that it is surprising that adults are playing a game designed for children is lazy reporting, at best.

Fourth: We’re all gonna die!

The “we’re all gonna die” phase happens near the end of any event’s news cycle, regardless of the event’s original context.

Nike put out a new line of Air Jordans? Better write a story about how people sometimes get mugged for their Air Jordans! Not like people get mugged for less famous products all the time, but whatever.

Now we’re reading stories about how “Pokemon Go’s” geo-locator is being used by criminals to rob people of their phones/cash/Pokemon. Or how a woman in Wyoming was walking along a river playing “Pokemon Go” and found a dead body.

This is when an event has moved beyond regular media, beyond social media, and has landed squarely in the grasp of alarmist media … which are then reposted to social media.

Is walking down an unknown alley at night to hunt for digital animals a bad idea? Yes, but I can’t imagine needing the news to tell you.

True story: In 2003 I met a man in the smoking area outside the Greyhound bus terminal in Des Moines who, in quick order, identified himself as “Rocky Road,” asked me if I was in possession of any LSD, then offered to “show me something” in a nearby alley. No outside information was necessary for me to decide that returning to the well-lit and populated bus terminal was a far better option than the dark alley and Rocky Road.

There isn’t a lot of room for a news cycle to maneuver beyond the “we’re all gonna die” mark, so usually the stories move to talk radio and its ancillary websites to discuss how Pokemon are controlling us all … blah blah … New World Order … blah blah … Freemasons … the regular “it’s a giant conspiracy” prattle we’ve come to expect from people that think Katy Perry is a high ranking member of the Illuminati.

Pokemon was the first nerdy fad that I was too old for, not by much, but by a few key years of development; I saw Pokemon first and foremost as a kid’s game. The fact that people are still excited about it doesn’t surprise me (I still play Mario games) but the intense media scrutiny is preposterous.

In fact, I really want to stop writing about it … but I suppose I DO have a legal obligation.

With that in mind: Did you know that rapid-curing polyaspartic coatings can be used to finish a concrete floor within an eight hour work day, all without sacrificing high performance or durability, and offer ultra-low VOC emissions with high color stability and cleanability? Polyaspartic esters can even be applied to concrete at temperatures below 50F and in high-humidity locations, thereby extending the availability of application season! Concrete flooring will never be the same!

Copy Editor Wes Burns is a Sunday columnist. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don’t necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Wes Burns at 641-753-6611 or wburns@timesrepublican.com