I'll assume you already know what Pokemon Go is. It has invaded our house, but this time it was by my choice, not the boys'.
My son Aran (age 19) is autistic and doesn't like to leave the house, so I'm always looking for ways to haul him outdoors. He's a Pokemon fan, and I urged him to download the game. He did, with some reluctance, and I had to put it on my phone in order to persuade him.
My youngest Maksim (age 14) scorned the game as stupid.
I took Aran outside to test the game. We wandered around the subdivision, looking for Pokemon and collecting what few we were able to find. Aran became more intrigued. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of every single Pokemon in existence, along with what forms each evolves into, what powers and weaknesses they have, what combat moves they use, and what group each belongs to. He could recognize any of them at a glance. It was like walking through a trackless jungle with a field guide who knew every plant and animal.
I found it kind of fun. The real-world/game-world merge gives the game an immediacy that other games don't have. It's like running to Zombies Run!, when I can pretend I'm somewhere else in my own neighborhood. It's interesting to spot the little monsters in real places and know that other people are doing it, too.
Later, I had to run errands. I took my phone with me and left the Pokemon Go app running. (I didn't use it while I was driving.) I discovered several gyms and Pokespots in the area. Pokespots, for the uninitiated, are local landmarks that grant you little prizes if you stop at them. I picked up more Pokemon and hit the spots for stuff. Halfway through my errands, I stopped at home and made Aran come with me. When he discovered the Pokespots and gyms, he became much more interested. We gathered enough stuff to boost us up to Level 5, but the local gyms were already boosted up way high, and we couldn't do much with them.
We showed Maksim how it all worked when we got home, and he allowed that the game might have some appeal. In the evening, he casually asked if maybe he and I could go out and about. I gravely asserted we could.
I drove Maksim around for a bit, and we stopped at the closest gym, which happens to occupy a 7-11. Maksim wanted a pop, so we also went inside. There was something of a line at the machine, and among the people, I saw two young teen boys with Pokemon Go on their cell phones.
A bit later, Maksim found a park with three (!) Pokespots in it. As I headed down the driveway, I saw a parked car with two middle-aged men in it. Both had Pokemon Go on their cell phones. In the parking lot, a thirteen-year-old boy and his sixteen-year-old brother were climbing into a car, both with Pokemon Go showing. A young woman sat in her car tapping at her Pokemon Go, and two other guys wandered in circles around the park with their phones.
Maksim hit the three Pokespots, then spent considerable time catching fireflies in the summer night air.
My final verdict?
First, there will be (have already been) detractors to the game. Good heavens! People are playing a popular video game! It's popular, so it must be awful. People are looking at their phones! This always happens to anything popular, but it never diminishes the thing's popularity.
Second, anything that gets people outside and walking about and talking to each other is a plus. This is a real-world version of World of Warcraft or City of Heroes, but it gets the players away from their consoles and strolling about outside. Awesome! Kudos to Niantic.
One disadvantage to the game is that the Pokemon, Pokespots, and gyms all cluster in more populated areas or in places like shopping malls and parks and such. If you're a kid living in a subdivision quite some distance from a decent population center, you're out of luck. Where we live, you have to drive to get to anything major.
I've heard, incidentally, that the Detroit Zoo is a veritable orgy of everything Pokemon Go, including Pikachu. Maybe we'll schedule a visit.
Yes, I'm aware of the potential security bug with the Google sign-in. (This is why I had the boys use their school Google accounts, which has no email or much of anything else attached.) I'm assuming Niantic has been alerted to the problem and will address it soon.
I declare this one a win.