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
Boy oh boy must we be powerful being connected with our bodies. The whole world would look different, as the body and its movement lets you have access to the grandest intelligent you can imagine.
I love how you present the absurdity this game brought to humanity and that it did not even attract much attention when people walked through the streets like robots. What a great reflection for us as humanity that such a game could be successful. The illusion that gets fed is feeling connected with others who play it also- in a way you get sold the belief that you are with others, although the truth is, when you are not present with yourself first, any kind of “connection”
can´t be soulful.
Very true Stefanie. It’s like watching people walking around looking at their phones, rather than looking at where they are going and also missing out on eye contact with others.
What is it about this world that so many are drawn to devices, food, drink, sports etc as a means to be distracted from what is going on around them. Maybe the reality of what is going on in the world and in some people’s lives, is just way too hard to deal with and they simply want to disappear into another reality, one of illusion. But what is going on around them does not go away it will still be there went they wake up from their illusory existence, and in some cases in a way more serious form than in the first place.
For sure Ingrid , the other thing is ” The Name of the Game is Distraction ” – but why? Is it perhaps at a deeper level there is a need to have humans distracted so they will never get to stillness to realise and feel their essence . If people are kept in motion and distraction they will never see the wood from the trees.
A video game that you play as walk and move throughout your day focusing on a screen – seriously, what next?
We are taught from a very young age how to disconnect from our bodies, how to override the strong messages that it relays to us, and how to numb our bodies so that we feel less. What you have shared here – ‘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.’ – highlights just how dis-empowering it is to be disconnected from our body and with that the awareness of what quality is moving us is lost, whereby we allow ourselves and our movements to be governed by a quality that does not support us to be ourselves. Is this the game we really want to be playing or be played in?
What is the goal of having masses of people being outside of their presence? When we are not present in our body, we simply don’t feel anything. If we don’t feel, we lose the ability to discern what happens inside and around us. We focus our eyes and our mind in what calls our attention, and then we move, like remote-control bodies. Manipulation is so easy then…
This craze seems to have died down a bit now, but I can’t even imagine what is next, because there is always a next craze to distract and numb us away from the responsibility of living in alignment to our souls! Crazy we are!
As with all things that are empty we move on unsatiated either to something that has meaning and supports us to re-connect or to the next craze to hit the shelf. At some point, exhausted by our choices to distract and numb we will come to the eventual conclusion that the only way forward is to re-connect!
Vanessa there is always a next craze and there always will be until we come to the point that we’ve had enough but until that day comes we will continue to distract ourselves with all manner of paraphernalia. And that ‘paraphernalia can also be ‘searching inside ourselves’ when that ‘searching inside ourselves’ comes from the same consciousness as video games. It’s imperative that we discern the energy that has set something up because that will dictate whether or not something is a distraction or not.
One must wonder at what point humanity will stop seeking distraction and realise that the real answer lies in dealing with it in the first place. Imagine if that $500m was invested in true health and wellbeing and not more numbness and distraction. It is no wonder why our illness and disease rates are so high.
It is getting worse Joshua, now we want an immersive game, we want to wear goggles and forget reality. They are using it to work with anxiety and I cannot for the life of me see how taking someone out of real life helps them cope with real life…
The original intention of games was that they were to be educational, or to bring people together, the games currently played by children and adults alike are cutting people off from reality, from education, and from other people.
What evil could know the weakness of the human spirit so well as to make a game so addictive, imprisoning, and isolating that it could deceive the world into believing it is just an innocent game.
It’s something powerful to consider that everything we say and express has a registered effect. But it’s a whole new level to comprehend that every movement we make contributes towards the health of the whole world. It’s easy to think of this as an everlasting multiple choice test – ‘will I give the right answer?’ our mind seems to think. But we actually don’t have to worry – just live in a way that allows grace, is gentle, spacious and playful too. In short just have fun staying aware and being you. It’s not an arduous task but an opportunity to enjoy being alive. The greatest game is to think that what we need to do is escape. Thank you Vicky for highlighting this.
Distraction robs us of having a true connection with ourselves and others.
We are missing out on so much in our habits of distraction. We do feel the insanity of watching groups of people out and about together not communicating directly but focussed on their screens… and yet, for every day that goes by without us calling this out, it becomes more and more normal and we stop apparently noticing. It is in relationships that we evolve and it is in these distractions that we stagnate.
Exactly Matilda. When we are allowing ourselves to be distracted we are the ones being played. We are moved, all the while thinking we are the ones making the moves.
And we don’t call it out, we enable that normal and that is probably the biggest part of the problem.
It’s true we don’t want to see how far away from ourselves we have come via the distractions we entertain ourselves with. This avoidance to address what is actually going on in the world and escape into a virtual reality is becoming very extreme, in Japan, I have heard, men are marrying virtual women. If this is true how does that impact on life in Japan and then the rest of the planet? Where on Earth are we heading? Woops perhaps that should read where in cyberspace are we heading?
Its amazing that it can be called a game. Its purpose is distraction from the world ” this is not a game ” .
There is a true science being talked about here, it is the science of energetic magnification. It is something that I feel perhaps every person is aware of, but because there are certain systems and types of education in place this is not a confirmed experience, even though many of us would say that it is true. The more we move in a certain way the more that way becomes who we understand ourselves to be. So, by this fact then surely we are in full authority all of the time for who we are and for what we present to the world.
Yes, clearly and that is why we find ways to be distracted.
The name of the game is distraction and the aim of the game is not seeing where we are in relation to what we in-truth naturally are and come from.
Exactly Ariana. The opposite of distraction is pure power and the magnificent responsibility that this brings.
It could be fair to say that generally we have become very ‘good’ at distracting ourselves in all ways and in all forms, but it seems that through computer games such as this, we have taken our distraction to a whole new level. To get to the ‘what we are avoiding’ point and to feel the consequences of what this actually does to us on a physical and emotional level is key to making the change.
The emptiness behind distraction is what we do not feel, though once we go there and feel it for what it is we can move on with more real substance and quality in our lives.
This is just the tip of the ever expanding iceberg – we are on a one way ticket express to greater and more elaborate ways to check out and alter reality, or even completely remove ourselves from it. But what is curious to me is what lies underneath the surface, the underlying and currently not so clear impact on mental health, commitment to life, health and wellbeing, ability to connect and communicate.
We have a communal green area at the back of flats and the other day my husband and I saw a crowd of people standing around all looking at their phones, it was then that we realised that this must be for some sort of virtual game as no one was really talking to each other they were just all observed on their phones, it is slightly disturbing to see so many people distracted by something totally not real.
This was very interesting to observe – the absence of being present in their bodies as they stood together meant they appeared almost zombie like. What must be driving us to want to be distracted and check out so much as to make games such as this so ‘successful’.
What strikes me when I go to the gym, is how many people are on their phones, either on them in between sets or whilst they’re doing their stretching. Going to the gym is potentially a great opportunity to be in our bodies and yet we’re ensuring that this doesn’t happen by continually keep going on our phones.
This blog has so many aspect to explore, even when we project it to our everyday life, without gaming or any visible distraction. How do we perceive the surroundings we live in, is it a virtual reality for us seen through a biased view we impose on it? For instance like perceiving the place we are as a dangerous and unsafe place to be while for another the same place can be a place of joy and friendliness, just like putting your sunglasses on through which everything looks so much more beautiful. How does this work, does the environment we live in present a reality that is fixed or not? I do not know the answer for now but for sure there is more to it than only what meets the eye.
This is just one example of one game that is largely popular. I find it incredible that there is so much distraction and so many ways of going about it. But with phones you can now have the distraction in your pocket.
Today I saw an advert for a phone, and it was aiming it at the fact that the new technology that is so amazing to the older generation will be the next generations new normal – and an example was a child in a swimming pool, with the phone under the water showing a holographic fish. This thing is that this new normal is not normal – it is not reality and we do not yet comprehend the impact that this could have on mental and physical health of the children that will grow up with such intense exposure to technology.
We tend to not think there are any consequences when we distract ourselves, whatever form that may take. I certainly didn’t think so, but now I have a developing awareness that there is a direct link to my body, my vitality and wellbeing.
This then leads to the question – What are we distracting ourselves from?
Recently I’ve been noticing how frequently I use a screen to distract myself from what I’m feeling, particularly if I feel stressed or under pressure with work and how exhausting it is.
The new trend of augmented reality in games and other computer based application is promoted as another frontier in entertainment and also solution to social issues faced by society. As humanity is looking for escape and distraction, Pokemon Go is a perfect answer at the expense of humanity’s health and well-being. I deeply appreciate the expose’ of the underlying energy behind the games such as Pokemon Go under the banner of entertainment, which are designed to exploit our society.
Just like any drug we become desensitised the more we indulge in it, the frightening thing now is this indulgence starts really young, it is normal in society to sit children in front of the television or give them a smart phone for a distraction, yet all these habits impact us and finally take its tool on us individually and as a society.
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. A powerful reminder for me today, thank-you.
Yesterday I had a realisation of just how much I use my phone as a distraction, at every point of the day when there is chance I reach for my phone. Sometimes I do this with a purpose but there are times when I do as a pure distraction.
I sure do hope the whole virtual reality phase we are going through to check out from life is short lived, because if it is true and it is that dementia is caused by checking out and not being present, well half the worlds population will have dementia before too long and that is a lot of people to look after.
When life gets intense the propensity to want to numb, or distract from it is enormous and we find every which way possible to do so? What if being with the intensity, feeling underneath it and staying with what we are feeling is the only way to truly be with life?
It is a peculiar situation that we have ourselves in, as we search for distractions away from the intensities of life, and yet these methods for distraction seem to only add to the pace and franticness of life itself, thus creating more of a need to seek distraction.
Yes, distracting ourselves when we are busy adds to the tension and raciness so we then seek to numb and distract ourselves more.
The thing is because we already have the TV and Hollywood block busters in place which are a widely accepted form of numbing ourselves, the video gaming and now the mobile video gaming is not such a stretch, and people do not see it as anything unusual. It seems that only when we wake up out of the numbing will we realise how much of our lives we are wasting on distraction. The question is what will it take to shake us out of this walking daydream?
I am pondering what it means when we choose distraction to ‘relax’ but this distraction becomes so exhausting that we layer it with another from of distraction to further deepen our separation from what is true. Making the choice to separate feels like a deepening web of illusion.
What is occurring within us if we need to have so much distraction? Surely it shows that all is not well within? When we are deeply settled within our own bodies there is no need for distraction as it is lovely being in and with ourselves.
I agree we think we are just choosing one thing but we get everything that comes with it whether we choose to see it or not.
Even 5 years ago this sort of thing would be the stuff of science fiction for many people. Nowadays it is the reality and it certainly is a very real problem in today’s society. We have often foreseen these devices in the past as being cool and providing us with seemingly rich digital lives. But have they changed anything in truth now that we have smart watches, smart phones, smart cars, even smart TVs! And still we seek more and more distraction and escape!
I see many industries strive and make huge profits from creating new forms of distraction for the public simply because there is a huge demand for this. Why is this demand increasing and what is the effects on humanity? Because collectively we are resisting evolution and love, and the consequences of our choices is deeply hurting humanity, our planet and the universe.