WANTED: Aimless, affable Caucasian male between the ages of 20-25 with sandy blond hair, hazel eyes and good teeth.  Gaming experience required. Interest in space travel an asset. Reply in confidence to Katherine@….

This is the classified ad I once composed – in my head, anyway.  The thought, inspired by an episode of South Park, was to hire a Millennial to pose as our son’s future self. The young man would explain to our tech-crazed 9 year old how he had travelled through time to warn his ‘current’ self about the dangers of becoming addicted to gaming.  These perils would of course include social isolation, inactivity and under-employability.

Flash forward five years, and the Gaming Gods have delivered a superior solution: Pokémon Go, an augmented reality smartphone app that is spurring sedentary gamers around the world to spend hours trekking across their communities.



Like Geocaching but with a fantasy element, Pokémon Go involves roaming your city with your phone, guided by an animated version of Google Maps. As you navigate the real world, your in-game character mirrors your movements. Your job is to find and capture the Pokémon that pop up on your mobile as you walk.  Along the way, you meet other players at designated public landmarks (aka Pokéstops and Pokégyms) who, like you, are waiting for characters to ‘appear’.

With millions of gamers suddenly walking several kilometers a day, Pokémon Go is being touted as a fitness revolution.  Calling it an ‘unintentional health app’ and a ‘fitness app in disguise’, the media is gleeful about the game’s remarkable ability to trick people into exercising.


And yet, a scant week after its release, the fitness benefit of the game is already under siege. Ingenious couch potatoes are developing hacks to fool the system into thinking a player is moving when he isn’t.  Others are experimenting with phones on drones. Meanwhile, entrepreneurial Uber drivers in major cities have begun offering hourly chauffer services to whisk gamers from location to location in air-conditioned comfort.  The really savvy ones are throwing in free WiFi, snacks and bevvies.


Health and exercise.  What technology giveth, technology taketh away.

For now, I’m just hoping that some enterprising Millennial will devise a way to outsource the walking aspect of Pokémon Go. Ideally to my Gen Z kid and his friends.

The Co’s Katherine Gougeon explores social and cultural details that have an outsized ripple effect. Follow her on Twitter @kgougeon