One of the more recent crazes to hit the streets in the gaming world has been Pokémon Go. In the first week alone of its release, it soon became one of the most downloaded apps ever and later it hit another record, the fastest app to reach $500 million in revenue. Computer games are nothing new but Pokémon Go, a type of augmented reality game, is far more than what it first appears to be.
Augmented reality games blend digital content into the real world, blurring the line between the physical world and the game world. Your eyes are scanning from the screen of your phone and then back to your surroundings. Your feet are walking, your body is moving, but your focus is elsewhere. Your mission is to find and catch small creatures that enter your ‘real world’ via your screen.
The main objective of the game is to walk to an identified physical place in your area and collect objects (Pokémon) with your smart phone by catching, throwing, trading and battling.
As someone who works with the body and movement, I was curious to learn more about this game. Not out of any interest in playing, but because of the potential risks involved in combining a game that asks players to focus on something on a mobile device, while at the same time walking and moving about. This is a whole new level of distraction that is now being actively encouraged.
The first time I saw Pokémon in use was while observing a young boy in my local town aimlessly walking along, moving his phone around in mid air, completely disconnected from his surroundings. What got my attention was that this type of behaviour appeared to go unnoticed by others. Whether it’s a child playing a game as they walk along or an adult texting or reading an email on the move, it has become commonplace for these kinds of distractions to be an accepted everyday occurrence. So much so that we don’t even question it, or consider how unfocussed and scattered this leaves us, not to mention the after effects of being so distracted and disconnected from our body.
Pokémon Go’s objective is for players to be constantly on the move as they play. Immediately, a player is distracted and is operating on auto-pilot. This is not only dangerous and can, and has, caused serious accidents since the game’s release, but add to that factor the physical movement required, and this game soon becomes something else entirely.
Physical movement is a science in itself and one that is rarely considered in its everyday context, or in relation to games such as this. Serge Benhayon, a complementary health and healing practitioner, presents an understanding and awareness of the body from an energetic perspective. In 1999 Serge Benhayon founded Esoteric Yoga, a form of Yoga that introduces the fact of energy and how each and every movement is a magnification of the energy or quality that we are in. This awareness of energy can change our relationship with our body and build a greater understanding of the effect energy and movement actually has on our state of health and well being.
Each time we move, whether that is bending, twisting, turning, walking and so on, we magnify and distribute energy throughout our entire body. Every step we take sends back the energy we sent down to our feet. And so it goes, up and down and around and around (Benhayon, 2011). Every movement is therefore a movement of energy and this travels in and through our body and, as such, our body receives the impact of the quality of each and every move.
If we walk or move our body in a harsh, hard or abrupt way, this is the quality of energy that travels through every part of our body, meeting every organ and body system, right down to the cellular level. Equally, if we move with presence and in a way that holds an awareness and care for our body, this is the energy that is received and distributed throughout our whole body.
Then, consider for a moment, what is actually taking place if we walk around unfocussed and distracted by a game, or anything for that matter, unaware of the fact that we are even moving, let alone the quality of that movement. What state does this actually leave someone in? Checked out, distracted, scattered, unfocussed… all of which are far from our natural state of being, which is to be present, aware and focussed with an inner stillness and harmony.
With this basic understanding of the science of movement, any game that incorporates a level of distraction combined with physical movement is not as innocent as it may first appear.
And yet there is more…
The nature of this augmented reality game means that, as you play, you provide uninterrupted use of your location and camera. This means that there is also another objective to this game – each player is effectively a gateway to an unlimited source of data gathering.
Further research on this topic of data gathering uncovers a patent, held by the company behind Pokémon Go, directly linking the game’s objective to data collection. The patent “System and Method for Transporting Virtual Objects in a Parallel Reality Game” discusses at length how a game such as Pokémon Go could be used to collect real-world data from a player without them knowing it (Hank et al., 2015). The patent also references an academic paper that states, “In our opinion, the real challenge lies in motivating the user to provide the data constantly, even after the exciting appeal of technological innovation at the beginning wears off. We are convinced that entertainment and fun are an important design aspect of such data collecting services.” (Matyas, 2007)
It is always worth looking behind a product or service to see what the real intention is and what we as consumers are buying into. When the aim of the game is distraction, combined with physical movement, along with a hidden intention to collect data, we all need to ask ourselves what are we actually investing in and what are we giving our children or are part of ourselves? Is it just a game, or is there more to this than meets the eye?
By Vicky Geary
- Benhayon, S. (2011). Esoteric Teachings and Revelations: A New Study for Mankind. Australia: UniMed Publishing.
- Hank, J.V., Augin, M.A., Kornmann, D., Milner, M., & Stern, L. (2015). S. Patent No. 8968099. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Retrieved from: System and method for transporting virtual objects in a parallel reality game
- Matyas, S. (2007). Playful Geospatial Data Acquisition by Location-based Gaming Communities. IJVR, 6, 1-10.
Autopilot: The case of the wandering mind
Rediscovering Our Body’s Lovely Flow
Connection to self through conscious presence
Fast forward to 2020 and the lies about a pandemic to control us in a different way, with an insidious game that takes us on a roller coaster ride of emotional turmoil, which has many acting like a zombie when it come to what has been presented by the media as they follow the lying rhetoric and not their hearts.
I bought a new computer recently which has been a whole new experience because since I bought the last one many years ago the changes are so obvious the whole set up is one where the computer company wants data. To start you cannot make a key stroke without being given the opportunity to share your data. It’s quite horrible to not just be able to set up a computer without being asked so many questions. And of course, the data collected is then shared and used by the big corporations which then bombard you with marketing campaigns specifically designed from the data collected. I feel we are living in a world where we are being more and more watched and controlled at every level and to me this feels very claustrophobic.
Any distraction keeps us away from truth.
The thing is when our baseline is one of already being disconnected and scattered then we don’t notice the effect of ‘these kinds of distractions’. I used to read womens magazines whenever I was waiting for an appointment but haven’t done this for ages, anyhow whilst in the laundrette the other day I picked up a women’s magazine and got absorbed in the photos and the gossip and was surprised at how discombobulated I felt when I put the magazine down. My point being that when I was permanently discombobulated I was never able to feel the effects of reading woman’s magazines, in much the same way that most of us can’t feel the effects of going on our screens.
Alexis I agree with you when you say
‘ in much the same way that most of us can’t feel the effects of going on our screens.’
I have a friend who reduced the number of hours they spent on their phone completely distracted and they noticed that it wastes a huge amount of time and it also has an effect on how they thought and felt about themselves and the world in general. Interestingly all the Apps they took off their phone many of them are back there because they said they miss the stimulation and distraction the Apps were providing. So what is it about the way we live our lives that we need to be distracted from it?
I’d also say with watching TV for example you are still moving, not as much as walking but the body isn’t completely rigid. That is still moving energy around your body and I know for myself what I watch then follows me after the show finishes. Which leads to distraction and disturbed sleep which then leads to more ill states of being.
When watching TV and something in the program scares us we catch our breath, unless we regain our breath and ourselves back from that moment we are no longer us. I know this to be true as when I was a child I would go to the pictures most Saturdays with my friends and get so immersed in the ‘Cowboys and Indian’ films we were watching that when we came out of the Cinema it took a while for me to come back to myself and my surroundings. I had been completely distracted by the films and isn’t this why they are made in the first place? We say it’s ‘entertainment’ but in reality I feel it’s to keep us all in the distraction of looking outside of ourselves rather than looking inwards to find our true selves. If this is true then who or what is behind this huge deception?
Distractions can also come in much more subtle ways, and now we have so much more at the touch of a button, it is constantly there to tempt us.
The only true form of satisfaction comes from learning to stay present, and be aware of ones own movements.
Distraction or should I say ‘entertainment’ is seen, at this current time in history by the masses as harmless and normal. In the future we will know just how harming this type of distraction is.
Whatever the latest craze is it is important that we get honest about all these games. They are nothing but a distraction from having to feel what we are feeling, as are all the media, entertainment options etc., we go to. Allowing ourselves to be with what we are feeling and dealing with it rather than just numbing out would support ourselves as individuals and society to such a great capacity. I am sure that we would see a shift in mental health issues and relationship break down.
Distraction is a killer, whether it is with emotions or entertainment – we get sucked in and its our life force that suffers.
When we model our life on any movement we become aligned to that energy and as you have shared Vicky walking is a science and being distracted means we have no connection to our essences, which is that, which’th we are all searching for.
It is an unsettling picture to realise how many of us are walking around in distraction and lack of connection, which is so contra to our natural way of being.
I can distract myself with food and when I do this I can miss out on the finer detail in life. There are so many magical wonderful moments its crazy to think we use distraction as a way to avoid these divine offerings.
Having paid attention to how my body feels when I move gently and stay present, compared to when I move distracted and not having any awareness of the quality of how I move, I can definitely offer there is a marked difference in both the physical and emotional outcome. This is good for health all round.
This game is defiantly not innocent in fact all should come with a health warning saying can seriously effect sense of presence and mental health.
It will be known in time that distraction is a killer and big instigator of ill mental health and dementia.
I have distracted myself for a large part of my life but now that I have re-connected to the truth of Life the last thing that I want to do is to distract myself from it, in fact all I want to do is to go deeper into it. To immerse myself back into the belly of life, in exactly the same way as I did when I was a child. Life has once again become magical and it’s magic is limitless, it really is.
I am sure in the future we will know that the over use of such games majorly contribute to ill mental health and dementia.
“Is it just a game, or is there more to this than meets the eye?” The end game is not what parents or children want to look at, for these games take us away from ourselves, so much so we can’t feel our body or have a sense of who we are. We do need to ask ourselves why anyone would invent such a device that this is the end game. We need to wake up to what is going on around us and what the impact is.
Thanks for highlighting the real intention and corruption that can be behind a simple ‘game’, ‘It is always worth looking behind a product or service to see what the real intention is and what we as consumers are buying into.’
Why aren’t we taught the importance of how we move from an early age, people need to understand the impact their movements have on their body and health, ‘If we walk or move our body in a harsh, hard or abrupt way, this is the quality of energy that travels through every part of our body, meeting every organ and body system, right down to the cellular level.’
As i was traveling back on the tube from work I was noticing how we’re all on our smart phones messaging, reading and so on, eyes down not engaging with anyone… but in addition just how many people are on their phones playing games. There was a time where such games were just for kids though now it’s all ages and all professions that are hooked or fixated by animated screens that lose one essentially from society and from interacting with others. It’s becoming such a solo-world.
True Zofia, there was a time when computer games were just for kids. When I was growing up it would have seemed very strange for adults to be playing Donkey Kong… now there is a whole market aimed at an adult audience that involves violence and rape, which more shockingly kids have access to and are playing at ages 6,7 and 8. Not only is it a solo world, it is now also a violent world too and is warping our sense of reality.
And car-driving-games, that does nothing for the real feel of driving a car but our youth think they know how to drive under all conditions??
If it is not Pokemon Go it is going to be another app to entice children and adults. There is always going to be a supply when there’s a demand. We have to get honest and real and ask ourselves why is it that we need to reach out for technology to distract, fix and/or make us feel better?
“Is it just a game, or is there more to this than meets the eye?” – your post gives worthwhile thought to games like Pokemon we play on the screen being reflective of the bigger game we’re in and who we are being played by – who is catching, throwing, trading and battling who?
Well said. It is worth considering who or what is moving us and how much free will we actually have when we have chosen to look the other way because the thrill of the distraction is too tantalising.
And to add – as adults do we actually stop these behaviours or – do we find different ways for them to manifest, through food, or tv, or relationships – could it be simply that as we grow up we choose a different flavour of the same ice cream – and we are still missing out on the magic of life?
Yesterday I had a young woman transfixed on her phone push a pram out in front of me as I turned the corner in my van, I saw the whole thing shaping up so it wasn’t a problem but if I had been checked out like I sometimes am I could have quite easily hit her and her baby. Do we need to look at making it against the law to push a pram whilst on the phone or do we just need a little common sense about the matter?
I get to meet a lot of children through work, and I’m always surprised how many kids say they’ve spent all day playing video games. What are we teaching or allowing our kids if we are teaching them to prefer an alternate reality to the one we live in – and what kind of reality are we providing for them that enables this to be possible?
Distraction can have a harmful outplay but focus without love may be just as harmful.
Any time we do anything when are disconnected from ourselves, as in distracted by something else, it is a recipe for a disaster of some sort. And you make it oh so clear that Pokemon is this sort of distraction, but not only that, it sounds like behind the scenes there is something else at play, something that makes me feel very suspicious. This is definitely one distraction the children of the world do not need.
I am so glad I was brought up in a age that mobile phones were quite rare, I’m glad my parents limited me on my television and video game consumption.
I know if I had been given free rain and watched and played with what I wanted to I would be all over the place, with no ability to concentrate and be satisfied in the moment.
Our digital devices encourage being detached from reality which is a very worrying trend for physical and mental health.
The Pokemon craze has died down so there is currently no sustainable augmented reality activity and virtual reality is not taking off as people thought – the same with 3D television. However, our phones are getting more and more compelling and therefore more and more involving without actually being of any further benefit.
I was having a conversation the other night with someone that cycles about ten miles to work each day through London and he said it is almost a daily occurrence that someone walks out in front of him that is transfixed by their phone. What is so important or transfixing that we are willing to put ourselves in so much danger by being so unaware of what is going on around us?
The levels of distraction and dishonesty underlying such games are very harming to humanity, those who engage in the so-called games and those who are affected by the energy.
Yes, I don’t remember a game like that where I felt better after playing it other than perhaps a sense of catharsis or relief because I felt awful beforehand.
What are we actually investing in? is a very good question and can be applied to any area of life, any moment of the day. What investments do we have and how are we rewarded by them and what energy are they feeding back to us?
When there is the need to distract ourselves we really do go to lengths and would say yes to things we usually would never say yes to.
“Any game that incorporates a level of distraction combined with physical movement is not as innocent as it may first appear.”
So true and time will tell as we see mental health problems soar.
What a huge distraction of what is going on in the world around mixing the real with the artificial, blurring the lines between the two, so insidious and dangerous.
There are many parents these days who engage with their children through these kinds of games, it has become a point of contact in a world where true contact or connection is at times, very rare or just difficult. And so I am guessing that to address the culture of checking out on computer screens, we would also need to address the propensity for adults to give their power away to electronic devices instead of standing in their loving authority and claiming the true and beautiful quality of intimacy that we can have with our children.
Gaming will be known in the future for the menace it truly is, to say it is not effecting us is as obvious as saying smoking does not harm you.
The appalling thing is, is that this is just the start… Virtual reality and AI is on its way
What if we changed our relationships with our phones to only be used for the connection with another, communication and purpose. How different then would what we put on and do with our phones be?
We spend billions and billions world wide on research into dementia – why not lets start looking at how distraction, checking out, not being present with ourselves all leads to an unhealthy mind and body that then leads to other energies influencing us.
Yes, if distraction leads to dementia we are going to have a major problem in the future. Plus obesity and diabetes and kidney issues and mortality through opiate overdoses – there are some worrying trends in progress.
Brilliant blog Vicky – rereading this I’m struck once again by how invasive screens are in our lives, and that we have no idea what the consequences are going to be for this generation given that they are spending their formative years moving in this way. Data collection is an agenda of sorts, although it feels more like a motive in a rather dark thriller where the outcome is certainly not focussed on an individual’s wellbeing.
I am glad this craze has died down. People were even less aware of their surroundings while working and looking at their phones.
There is a very real danger that those who play games that are living in an artificial reality world at the same time as the physical world are being enticed into a split personality where they lose connection to what is true and what is not.
Hilarious the game in many ways is harmless in that it is not showing us graphic images or physically hurting us in any way. It is deeply harmful if not evil in that it leaves us separated from who we truly are. It is not inspiring connection but inhibiting it. It leaves us invested and attached to what we see in the game yet it is not real in any way. The harm it is doing to us is something we cannot afford to ignore.
This is very pertinent after recent issues about our lack of awareness of how much data collection is happening to all of us. It is a great wake up call that there is more going on than yet more distraction being offered to those who are increasingly disconnected from life and the rest of humanity. We have a responsibility to make ourselves aware of hidden agendas and not sleep walk into a big brother future where we are pawns in a much bigger game.
Not just lack of awareness of our data but lack of awareness of our surroundings. That is quite harmful as well.
Helen I totally agree with you when you say
‘We have a responsibility to make ourselves aware of hidden agendas and not sleep walk into a big brother future where we are pawns in a much bigger game.’
It would be a great exercise to feel into why we want to be distracted so much.
Yes, Vicky it is very intelligent to look behind the true intent of everything. No matter how sophisticated it is seen to be all can be felt through energy.
We have yet to find out the effect this kind of game will have on a whole generation, what I do know now from simple observation is these kind of games are addictive and overall add to a disharmonious un settled life.
The patent also references an academic paper that states, “In our opinion, the real challenge lies in motivating the user to provide the data constantly, even after the exciting appeal of technological innovation at the beginning wears off. We are convinced that entertainment and fun are an important design aspect of such data collecting services.” (Matyas, 2007) This totally exposes the way that manipulators think. They are not considering the person that they are manipulating, but completely discarding that life is about people and instead going for a loveless goal, probably to make money and thus gained security. The game is torturous and loveless. Thank you for sharing Vicky!
I love the precise description of the impact of every movement:
‘Every movement is therefore a movement of energy and this travels in and through our body and, as such, our body receives the impact of the quality of each and every move.’
I can’t be reminded enough and can feel the impact on the connective tissue in my body when I move without awareness, rushed or with hardness. The space and flow I feel in my body totally depend on it.
I would have thought we have all the distraction we need in the world, but apparently we need more otherwise this game wouldn’t be such a gigantic success. How far can we run away from ourselves and the magic we can all connect to by being present in our body and move in the quality that we deserve?
We use all sorts of distraction to avoid how we feel but this is just a delay tactic as eventually our body will let us know what we have been avoiding all along. It is of far greater benefit then for us to look at and feel what we are avoiding when we use things to distract us and to address them step by step.
I am so glad I did not grow up with this! I could easily have been one of those kids who are addictive and let it take over.
Knowing what I know now I would love to ban all these types of games that do nothing but over stimulate the mind for all the wrong reasons!