THE NAME OF THE GAME IS DISTRACTION
One of the more recent craze’s to hit the streets in the gaming world has been Pokemon 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 Pokemon Go, a type of augmented reality game, is far more than what it first appears.
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 objective of the game is to travel to an identified physical place, which are located worldwide, and collect objects (Pokemon) with your smart phone by catching, throwing, trading and battling.
As someone who works with the body and movement, this game got my attention. Not out of any interest in playing but the potential risks involved in combining a game that asks players to focus on something on their phone while at the same time walking. This is a whole new level of distraction that is now being actively encouraged.
The first time I saw it 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 now be an accepted everyday occurrence. So much so that we don’t even question it let alone 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 on operating on auto-pilot. This is not only dangerous and can and has caused serious accidents since the games release, but add to that 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 let alone in relation to games such as this. Each time we move our body, whether that be bending, twisting, turning, walking and so on, we magnify and distribute energy throughout our entire body. Every movement therefore travels in and through our body and as such, our body receives the impact of each and every move. If we walk or move our body in a harsh or abrupt way this is the quality or energy that travels through every part of our body, that meets 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 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 . . . just to name a few.
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, “To 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? Is it just a game, or is there more to this than what meets the eye?
Hank, J.V., Augin, M.A., Kornmann, D., Milner, M., & Stern, L. (2015). U.S. Patent No. 8968099. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Retrieved from: http://www.google.com/patents/US8968099
Matyas, S. (2007). Playful Geospatial Data Acquisition by Location-based Gaming Communities. IJVR, 6, 1-10.
When we think of yoga we often think of going to a class, whether it is in a building or in the open air, yoga mat in tow, with a teacher or instructor of some sort leading the way. However yoga, in its truest sense, is union with self. Esoteric Yoga refers to innermost union, so this means that we can turn anything and everything into an opportunity to be connecting with our body and developing conscious presence. This is all part of supporting ourselves to develop union with our Soul.
There is far more to us that just our physical body - but it all starts with our body.
Going for a walk is a wonderful opportunity to check in and see whether we are in our head or in our body. It sounds a little strange, but next time you go for a walk, observe how much of the time your mind is wandering off in thoughts that have nothing to do with what you are doing. We call this checking out. The body is still walking along, but we are not there. This is actually a very exhausting way of living as not all of our energy is focused on what we are doing, we are fragmented – a bit of us over there, a bit of us here – you get the picture.
So walking, just like many other everyday activities, can be a truly supportive part of our day. If we are in an office, walking to the bathroom, preparing something in the kitchen or just moving between rooms every step offers us the opportunity to check in with our body.
A great question to ask yourself is “can I feel my legs and my feet as I moved from A to B?”
If not, that’s the sign that you are not in your body.
We can go for a walk and be thinking about a million and one things or we can go for a walk and be focusing on our body and what we are doing in that particular moment. The latter is walking with conscious presence. Walking and thinking and walking with presence are two very different experiences. While they both may look similar to the casual observer, let's look closer at the difference between the two.
Walking and thinking
Walking is a very physical activity, but it can also be a very mental activity too. When we walk and think we aren’t really there with the walk. We may not even be feeling our body or be aware of our movements. When we are walking and thinking of other things that have nothing to do with the walk, we are missing out on the benefits that walking actually offers.
Walking with conscious presence
Walking can be a wonderful way to develop connection and presence with our body. When we walk and keep our mind focused on our walk and what we are experiencing in that moment the purpose and quality of our walk changes entirely. This means that walking is never about excersise alone. There is far more going on that we are often aware of. When our mind is with what we are doing we start to become more aware of how our body feels.
This may include:
In a world of incredible technological advances and access to endless information on anything we can think of, it is puzzling to see something as simple and accessible as walking with conscious presence be so overlooked and undervalued. Walking with conscious presence has the potential to leave us feeling less stressed, more connected to our body, more aware of how we are actually feeling, rejuvenated and with a clearer mind. While walking and letting the mind wander off leaves us dis-connected from our body, not really there and more drained after our walk.
Walking is a way of deepening our connection with our body, clearing our mind and returning to an awareness of our Soul and therefore the more subtle and meaningful aspects of life. Next time you go for a walk, enjoy exploring the simplicity, beauty, clarity and power that walking with conscious presence offers.