|The rustic gates at the entrance to Hallett Nature Sanctuary in Central Park|
Let me explain. Sharing my field notes of a relatively unknown section of Central Park seemed perfectly in tune with the mission of this website - to inspire people to connect with their city through walking and to explore new places. Pokémon Go, a wildly popular app-based game that overlays the natural landscape with a chase involving virtual cartoon monsters, is also said to inspire people to connect with their city through walking and to discover new things. At one point this past week, thousands of enthusiasts of the game rushed en masse to Central Park in order to capture a rare Pokémon, an incident characterized in media outlets as a “stampede.”
Reviews and commentary have noted several positive social aspects of the game. For an opinion piece in The New York Times, editor Sarah Jeong shares her experience playing the game in San Francisco: "Pokémon Go gave me new eyes with which to look at my city. It pushed me to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air, and to strike up conversations with strangers." (Pokémon Go Connects Us to Our Cities and Neighbors. July 13, 2016) For The Atlantic's CityLab, writer Laura Bliss offers that Pokémon Go "has created a new class of urban explorers, roaming busy streets and sidewalks—where there's more density, there's more game action—with phones in hand, occasionally lifting their eyes to register actual surroundings." (Pokémon Go Has Created a New Kind of Flâneur, July 12, 2016).