Pokemon Go: The Productivity Killer


The Pokemon Go phenomenon has lead to accidents, death, and many acts of minor stupidity. On top of all that, it’s also causing a great deal of distraction in offices around the world.

Let’s face it; most people causing themselves harm are unlikely to have been running for major office anytime soon. However, an office full of younger workers rushing to the park at the rumor of a rare Zapdos or Tauros is bad for business.

And that’s just the practical, headline-grabbing aspect of Pokemon Go’s success. Some people are giving up their jobs entirely to go hunting, with good money to be paid for an account with a menagerie of rarer beasts.

What is Pokemon Go?

The game is developed by Niantic, an augmented reality specialist, on behalf of The Pokemon Company, of which Nintendo is part owner. So far, the Pokemon franchise has appeared only on Nintendo’s console and handheld devices, hence the association. However, with the console games market slowly declining, Nintendo is moving its focus to iOS and Android devices.

Pokemon Go is the first of these efforts, with the primary benefit that it gets people off their butts when playing and exploring their neighborhood and further afield. Ignoring the obvious ramifications, it sees players trying to capture monsters which appear in augmented reality in random or preset places.

These can then be powered up and trained in Pokemon Gyms to get fitter for when the time comes to fight other trainers in battle. These involve quick mini-games, flicking Poke balls at targets around the screen.

With 142 (so far) Pokemon to collect, train and evolve into more powerful forms, it is a clever idea. But not a completely original one. Novarama’s Invizimals has done a similar trick on the PlayStation Portable and PS Vita for years.

The Pokemon Office Rules

When it comes to the office, HR Policies should already cover the worst issues that the game can bring up. However, now would be a very good time to reinforce those messages, especially for younger workers, fleet drivers, or those in similar positions.

The game itself is no more a threat to democracy or business than the arrival of radio, TV, the Internet or other innovative apps like Tinder or Angry Birds. All of which were highlighted as a sure sign of the apocalypse on their arrival.

One area worth considering is the large amounts of downtime the game’s servers have suffered from overload, DDOS attack, and other issues. There will be many technical lessons to learn from such a large scale cloud product achieving massive success.

Instead, productivity may dip, briefly. Some people may take an extra-long lunch from time to time. And, yes a few people might get addicted to it. Yet, proactive companies can use the game for team competitions, research, and other beneficial uses.

But a lot more good may come from Pokemon Go than you’d think. Augmented reality has long needed a poster child. Now many companies will see this as an opportunity to sell AR-enhanced gamification tools to business. Galleries and exhibits can burst to life with “Night at the Museum”-style interactive tours. New businesses will spring up and new ideas fly.

The Pokemon Pet Phenomenon

Pokemon Go also represents the start of a new wave of digital lifestyle choices. It may encourage more companies to produce digital pets that need walking or greater exercise. Similar products will tie into health and life insurance apps to encourage healthier living. Marketers will be all over AR as a new way to promote products.

The game could also drive a wider ecosystem, like Pokemon dating/friends app. How to play guides, articles, and tutorials are flooding the web, giving writers something to talk about other than Game of Thrones.

Battery life extender packs are also selling like hot cakes. The game drains life rapidly out of even new phones, using the camera, GPS and mapping software to provide the experience. This and other benefits boost the overall economy, not to mention the 50% initial boost to Nintendo’s stock price.

So, don’t look down on the funny little critters. Instead, seek the opportunities or inspiration they offer to help find your next challenge.

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