For me, Pokémon Go is much more than "another game." The social experience and health components are what really draw this game out as something different for me. I've been posting pictures, and will add more on the page here as I gather them together, but the spontaneous flash mobs that are popping up in every city and town across America (as I'm hearing it) are astounding. I had the opportunity to be a part of one in my own city last night. I had heard about the experience from friends who live in larger cities like New York (Central Park is apparently constantly full of Pokémon hunters) or Chicago, even in Pittsburgh for a more local experience. I hear that the point is pretty much flooded by folks around the clock now. But as I was driving home last night, I passed a parking lot near the courthouse in town, and was shocked to see around 60 or 70 people gathered around all checking their phones and chatting with one another. After coming home to check on my dog, get things situated for the next day, etc. I was able to meet up with my better half, who also saw this flash mob gathering, and we decided to venture up. The number of people fluctuated as more arrived, and others had to head home for work the next day or because their phones were going to die (though many folks had portable charging devices), but there were never less than about 30 people at any given time chatting with one another moving from one cluster of Pokémon trainers to another. People were chaining lures to keep things going (there were 3 Poké stops surrounding the parking log) and sharing information and plans to get together and continue the socialization.
It was a completely positive experience, with the exception of one older gruff gentleman who decided to stop and harass us for "loitering." He tried to make a point that we ought to have better things to do and to go back to our homes (this was not a police officer, just a random guy who seemed to have been leaving a local bar). Folks responded to him in a completely friendly and non antagonistic sort of way, just explaining what we were doing, and that this was a public area, not like anyone was on any sort of property. However, he was clearly very bothered that we were all hanging around having a good time, not doing anything wrong. Folks even tried to explain the game to him, and get him involved, however he was having none of it. After it became clear that he wouldn't be reasonable, we simply all got back to our pleasant conversations and attempting to catch a wild Meowth that had wandered into our area of the sidewalk. Just ignored him until he went away, though he did spend a lot of time staring at us, hating us. It's just amazing to me that the argument used to be "those damn gamers, all they do is sit inside alone, never socialize, not getting exercise, wasting their time gaming," now the experience is "those damn gamers, they're always hanging out socializing, exercising together, wasting their lives being happy together."
It's just amazing to me in this time where all I hear about when I turn on the news is information about protests vying for people to just respect one another's lives, frequently turning violent. Political campaigns focusing on spewing negativity back and forth against one another. And now a game that is bringing people together, getting them out of their homes and interacting with one another, getting exercise and bettering their lives, and all I hear about it on the news is how we should be careful that the companies aren't stealing our information, the dangers of exercising while focusing on hunting Pokémon, and various head shaking with smiles which imply "oh these silly kids. What will they come up with next to waste their time." I'm choosing to ignore that though, and focus on the people who had difficulty in dealing with their anxiety about being out and about, but are finding something to draw them into social situations. I'll focus on the group of people who weren't paying any attention to the color of skin of the Pokémon trainer next to them, the amount of money the other trainers were bringing in (there was myself and Abby, both licensed counselors, two students in between jobs and school, one guy who had to leave to get to his night shift, etc. all floating around chatting with one another), or the political or religious affiliation, etc. that any of the other group members were identifying with. We were all spending time together, socializing, walking about and getting some exercise, and planning future opportunities to meet up and spend time. It was telling to me when one of the guys I was talking with was saying something like "I've never experienced so many people who would typically struggle with social awkwardness, purposefully coming out and trying to interact with each other." That's the beauty of our culture, we get to have something that bridges all of those other potential barriers, that we can jump off of to be able to interact with one another in positive ways. I'll choose to focus on that.