lydy: (me by ddb)
So, the last two 2K eggs that I hatched were, respectively, a Pikachu and a Charmander. Very exciting. And the last two 10K eggs I hatched were a Jinx and a Scither. WTeverlovingF? I have several Jinxes (which are both horrifically racist and sexist), and another Scither. Mind, I do also have other Pikachus and one other Charmander, but how is it that the 2K eggs are ever so much better than the 10Ks?

Pokemon Go, an everlasting font of delight and confusion.

P.S. Sharon, I have used my very first tag, just for you.
lydy: (me by ddb)
So, I'm back from my second Pokewalk of the day. According Pokemon GO, I clocked about eight kilometers, total. This is approximately ten thousand steps, that magical number of steps that people were so enamored with a bunch of years ago. When I was working for the university, they gave everyone a very cheap and crappy pedometer, and gave us brochures on how easy it would be to incorporate those ten thousand steps into our daily routine. Park a couple of blocks further away from work, take a short walk on your lunch hour... and so on. The promises of health benefits mentioned cardiovascular improvements, but most of all, they stressed weight loss. So much with the weight loss.

I have Thoughts about this. First of all, I'm whacked. Tired and foot-sore. The idea that this is something I could easily incorporate into my daily life is fucking nuts. And the idea that this is something that everyone has the time and physical capacity for is deeply insane on so many levels. The brochures they handed out claimed that people take about 5,000 steps naturally during their day. However, I doubt this claim. My best estimate is that I get maybe two to three thousand steps in in the normal course of a work day. That leaves between five and six thousand steps. If a kilometer is about thirteen hundred steps, we're talking four to five kilometers. Average walking speed, according to the Google, is five kilometers an hour. That means finding an hour of extra time in a day, every day, to walk. I don't know about you, but that's kind of a lot of time during my work week. I can usually manage two kilometers a day, about a kilometer before and after work, but more than that is hugely difficult to manage just on time.

The claims that this will improve your health are... well, I dunno. I've been walking every day, sometimes as much as ten kilometers in a day, but usually at least two, for two months. I have seen exactly no change in my weight. My tight navy scrub pants do fit a little less snugly, which suggests that I may have traded a little bit of fat for a little bit of muscle, but not by very much. I may well be doing my heart and lungs all sorts of good, but I've also given myself several fairly small asthma attacks, and heart stuff you mostly don't notice until you have catastrophic symptoms or death.

Which leads me to BMI as a measure of health. Medicine, as a discipline, has this problem: it really has no good measure of health. Medicine is much better at measuring disease. If you have, say, Stage II Breast Cancer, that actually means an actual thing. It tells you useful things about your probable life expectancy, and provides a useful gauge for how aggressively you should be treating your disease. And while it is perfectly possible to make mistakes, if they kill off the cancer, they generally know that they have done so. If you've got pneumonia, they can usually figure out if it's viral or bacterial, and design a treatment program for it.

Health is largely measured by absence of symptoms or disease. And that's because health is holistic, and man are bodies complicated. At this point, the medical profession is pretty sure that health is enhanced by avoiding carcinogens, being physically active, and eating nutritious food most of the time. Exactly what is a carcinogen, how active, and what exactly is nutritious is under debate. And that is partly because all of those things interact complexly within the human animal, and with the unique biological machine that is each person. None of this is measurable. However, activity and food consumption correlate with weight, and weight, weight is measurable. It's nicely objective. This height, this weight, this BMI, man is that something that fits nicely on a chart. And, it's bullshit. It doesn't measure health. It doesn't even correlate as well as they say it does. I think that doctors rely on it so heavily because that's the only thing they have. They can't actually measure health, at all. But they can put you on a scale. And so they do.

In sum, I did my 10,000 steps today, and I am happy about the Pokemon. So there.
lydy: (me by ddb)
The app says that I started playing on 7/12/16. It also claims that I've walked about 85 kilometers. It's not right about that. It is, in fact, the world's worst pedometer. While there have been Pokewalks where it clearly was not counting my steps, it also has a bad habit when indoors of sending my avatar to run around to various, improbable places. Some nights, my avatar will clock two kilometers while I'm just sitting there. However, if you discount 25 kilometers (which I think is a little high) that still means that I've been averaging two kilometers a day. Now, by most standards, that's not a lot. But it's important to note that this is two kilometers more than I would have walked on my own. As I've previously noted, I'm not so much a sedentary creature as a sessile one.

It doesn't really feel like I've increased my stamina. I'm still very slow, and easily winded. But I am willing to undertake longer walks than I used to be. It may be that this is merely building on previous successes, and I was always able to walk those distances, but there might be additional stamina involved. I am also more willing to take more circuitous routes, including ones with hills. (Ok, hills by Minneapolis standards. They aren't hills that, say, a Pittsburgher would call a hill. But they wind me, nevertheless.) Most notable, though, is that I don't hurt at the end of the day like I did the first week or two when I was taking regular Pokewalks. I also feel antsy when I watch my avatar wander around when I can't. I _want_ to get up and walk, some nights. This, this has never happened to me, before.

I've never been a fan of walking for the sake of walking; I find it supremely boring. I usually read a book while walking (and, no, I don't run into things or people, although very short people moving fast are my biggest hazard.) So, going for a walk is always a difficult sell. If I overcome my natural impulse to remain at rest, then the problem is that there isn't really any reason to stop, either. Since I am walking for exercise, and not to get to a specific place, I walk until I am too tired to walk any further. Which sets up a really bad reward system. The reward for walking is being tired and hurting. Yay! Let's do that again!

Pokewalks are slow and punctuated by pauses to catch Pokemon. Which works very well for poor, old, overweight me. And I get cute pocket monsters, and spinny disks with prizes. Lots of little rewards along the way to keep me moving, and then if I walk far enough, I hatch eggs which give me more pocket monsters. If I'm bored while walking, I can pull up the Pokedex, or my list of captured Pokemon, or admire my list of medals, review my inventory, and hey, there's another Rattata, let's catch him. I am going to be sad when it gets cold and this isn't a reasonable thing to do. I wish there was an indoor module, which could link up to a pedometer app on your phone and provide Pokestops at random intervals when, say, walking around a mall, or an indoor track at the gym, or something like that. Because, seriously, there are months of the year where walking around with the phone out like this is not workable in Minnesota. Many, many months.

On the game mechanics side of things, although I haven't done a careful, controlled experiment, I have the strong impression that my catch rate is improved by continuing to walk when I toss Pokeballs, instead of stopping to catch yet another fucking Weedle. This does run the risk of walking out of range of the target, and then they escape. So if there's a pocket monster I particularly want, such as an Eevee, I will pause. But if it's just another rat or pigeon, I tend to keep on walking while I try to catch them. If they escape, it's no big deal. I have seen the claim that critters get harder to catch as you go up in levels. My own feeling, again utterly unscientific, is that the more of a particular Pokemon you have caught, the harder it is to catch them in the future. Now, this will track with levels, as when you catch Pokemon you get experience points which cause you to level up. But really common monsters, the rats and pigeons and worms, appear to be much harder to catch than the rarer ones, such as the Eevees and the Electrobuzzes. While higher combat power critters are usually harder to catch than lower ones, low powered common critters actually appear to be harder to catch than higher powered less common ones. This does not, however, apply to Pikachu. I caught my third one today, and man that was tough. Magikarp are starting to get hard to catch, which is a pain, since I need 400 candies to evolve one. I'm told they turn into a really cool sea dragon. I only have 130 Magikarp candies, so far. On the other hand, I do have a Tentacruel, and that's pretty neat.

I'm still having fun, and I've sort of figured out the gym battles and have won a bunch of battles and even captured some gyms, now and again. I never get to stay as a defender for very long, a couple four hours, maybe. They're still my least favorite part of the game.

The other thing I find interesting is that there seems to be a pretty broad range of ages playing this game. Today I ran into a young woman with a baby in a stroller. I have had a long conversation with a guy my age with a sensitive fannish face. I had a lovely encounter with a twenty-something couple very earnestly talking about cheap breakfasts and which gyms they felt they needed to defend. I came across a small clot of teenagers at Lake Calhoun all working on conquering a particular gym, and I have had one of those weird, sideways conversations that I tend to have with eleven year old boys where I'm really not sure we're on the same planet and I'm pretty sure they hold me in deep contempt. Which, given they're eleven, seems perfectly fine to me. Broad range of ages. But...all of them white, and all of them middle class, near as I can tell from a glance. Now, I am in the Great White North, but my neighborhood does have a fair number of Hispanics and African Americans, so... I dunno?
lydy: (me by ddb)
It is not a game without flaws. So many flaws! The fact that it crashes frequently is amazingly annoying, and it is not improved by the fact that I have to reboot my phone in order to get a good, clean start. My phone has been badly behaved, lately, so it doesn't always reboot cleanly. This may or may not be the fault of Pokemon GO. There are all sorts of issues with the game mechanics, I suppose. I am not a gamer, and cannot evaluate this.

The thing about it, though, is that for eleven days in a row, it has gotten me to take at least one ten-minute walk. I am walking a kilometer or two more per day than I ever did, before. Now, a kilometer is about 1300 steps, so vastly short of that 10,000 steps that everybody was all het up about some years ago. But that's still 1500 to 2000 more steps than I would have taken without it. This can't be a bad thing. (Ok, the tripping over curbs, that is a bad thing. But I'm getting better at avoiding that.)

I've seen several think pieces on Pokemon GO which hold forth in alarm about various aspects of the game. It's possible they get more sensible several paragraphs in, but I tend to bounce out after the first paragraph or two sound the alarm about how there are fewer Pokestops in poor neighborhoods because poor neighborhoods have less public art and fewer institutions. I think that there is an interesting article to be written, here, but the ones I've bounced out of all seem to think that the problem is Pokemon GO, rather than the fact that too many of our people live in poor neighborhoods with few amenities. Pokemon GO could provide an interesting lens into what is where and why, but it is not the problem, guys. You know what other neighborhoods are vastly impoverished when it comes to Pokestops? Rich, white suburbs. There was a fascinating article I saw a link to a while back (on Making Light, maybe) about mapping the elevators in New York City. And a map showing the presence of elevators does, indeed, provide an fascinating look into population density and wealth distribution in the city. But no one was suggesting that the presence or absence of elevators was, in fact, the problem.

The other thing I've seen in my Twitter stream is a friend concerned about the ableist aspects of Pokemon GO. I'm not really sure how to think about this. My friend is a very smart person, who has done a lot of really useful and creative thought about inclusivity and ableist assumptions. But for me, Pokemon GO is largely a very inaccurate pedometer with a stellar reward system. For me, it's not really a competitive game. I've fought a couple of gym battles, and man, that's boring. I like collecting the pretty little monsters, and I like evolving them. I like walking to the Pokestops and spinning the disks to get prizes. I like being encouraged to go to places I don't normally go to get rarer Pokemons. I like the fact that I'm becoming more sedentary and less sessile. For me, an older, very out of shape person, it doesn't feel coercive or alienating. I'm very aware that a lot of players are way ahead of me, because they have more time and more energy and can walk a fuck-ton farther than I can, but I don't find that upsetting. However, I may be missing something important. I do very much think that inclusivity is how we build humane, resilient systems. But I'm not sure how to design a walking app that doesn't, in the end, privilege people able to walk.
lydy: (me by ddb)
So, I downloaded Pokemon GO. Also Ingress, because, seriously, why not? They are both pretty damn opaque to me.

So, first off, Ingress, which doesn't crash nearly as often. Which is a plus. On the down side, what the fuck? Seriously, what am I doing and why am I doing it? I did the training missions, but I am finding myself with a severe lack of motivation to do anything. Why am I hacking portals? Why am I linking portals? Why am I attacking portals? Why should I hack versus attack versus... I suppose if I'd paid more attention to the "briefings" I'd have a better idea, but honestly, WTF? I do not have any emotional resonance with the idea of being an "agent." The sides are opaque, so I chose blue because it's a prettier color than green. And I'm a bit baffled by the game mechanics. I'm not sure I understand the controls, or anything else, really. But over all, I am desperately looking for a reason to care. I know some of you play this, and at least one person (hello, Patricia) is passionate about it. Could you please explain both the raison d'ĂȘtre, and also the game mechanics, please?

Onto Pokemon GO. The very beginning is considerably more accessible, I'll give you that. I've never played any previous iteration of Pokemon, so I have no idea what's going on or why, but there are cute little animals, and if I throw balls at them, I get to add them to my Pokedex, so that's kind of cool. It crashes all the fucking time, which is irritating. I had to ask a very nice stranger how to get Pokeballs out of the Pokestops (never occurred to me to spin the fuckers), and I am currently a level 4 for no apparent reason. There are gyms, and I guess I battle my Pokemons? (Insert look of quizzical disbelief, here.) There's something about powering them up, which I suppose has to do with the gym battles, and evolving, and I have no idea what that is, and there's a bar under my game name which I guess has to do with...power? Not even sure. And I have a back pack, so I can carry things? Are my pokeballs in the backpack? So very confused. And why do I want to battle my Pokemons? Wouldn't I rather just be friends with them? They're cute, even the stinging bug ones. Again, can someone explain both the back story and the game mechanics to me? I mean, I tried googling "how do I get pokeballs" and the articles very kindly told me to go to the Pokestops, but didn't tell me I had to spin them, so I visited a bunch of Pokestops before the nice young woman explained things to me. How do I get coins? What is a Pokestop module? Why would I want one? Arghhhh.

I've also had my first Pokeinjury, I tripped over a curb and went sprawling. My left pinky finger is a little sore, and my phone is fine, so I guess that's ok. And I walked about a kilometer, so that's a good thing. The very little information I've found suggests that you can just hold the phone, not look at it, while you're walking, but I find that mine shuts itself off, and when it does that, Pokemon Go doesn't wake it up to tell me about Pokemons, so that doesn't work. Possible I need to adjust a phone setting? So very confused.

Of the two, Pokemon Go is so far more fun, and offers more reasons to stop, which is nice for a very out of shape 54 year old like me. My, but I'm easily winded. I have no idea if I'm going to play this obsessively, or not. And it's possible that Pokemon is more fun initially, but Ingress more fun over time. No idea.

So many questions.

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