Griffiths / Local Libs go the Pokémon distance

“The ignorant Pokémon players of the world are united in their thanks of the Canberra Liberals’ uncaring approach to electoral law and simple distances,” writes Lowbrow columnist JOHN GRIFFITHS

WHILE Pokémon Go is taking over the world and hordes of players descend on Canberra’s public places to wait for the servers to work, it is pleasing that our own Canberra Liberals have played a small part in the game’s meteoric rise.

John Griffiths.

John Griffiths.

In 2008, I was moderately incensed that the Liberals were flouting the ACT’s laws about electoral signage within 100 metres of a polling place. For a party that campaigns on locking other people up for breaking the law, I expected better.

To demonstrate the true distance I went down to the Dickson oval running track with my housemate, turned on a video camera while facing her and walked backwards to the end of the track.

It’s a crude and simple video but it does demonstrate the distance. While at the time it attracted no more than a few hundred views, over the years it has become Google’s first result when asked: “How long is 100 metres?”.

This question became a lot more pressing when Pokémon Go launched and started informing its vast legion of players that rare pocket monsters were within 100, 200 or 300 metres of them. The traffic spike on the video is near vertical.

The ignorant Pokémon players of the world are united in their thanks of the Canberra Liberals’ uncaring approach to electoral law and simple distances.

If you’re still doubting the impact of the game, head down to Questacon of an evening. There in near complete silence you’ll see hundreds of faces lit only by the screens in their hands waiting for prize rare Pokémon to appear.

While the game is only a couple of weeks old, and for much of the time the servers are down due to the insane demands of the players, it already has legends.

One of those is that a rare dragon appears at the top of Black Mountain at midnight.

An acquaintance of mine duly attempted to collect it, sat for half an hour at the top of the mountain and decided to head home.

That was when he discovered he’d run his car battery flat. While waiting for the NRMA to come and jump start him the dragon finally appeared and was captured.

While much is being made of the way the game forces players to get outside and interact with the real world, occasionally discovering dead bodies or getting mugged, it is following in the footsteps of an earlier augmented reality game “Ingress”.

A point of sadness for players prone to mild naughtiness is that where Ingress was largely unknown to police, one definitely does not want a game of Pokémon Go to be visible on the dashboard as one is driving.

If you haven’t yet succumbed to the craze but are thinking about it here are some things you’ll be needing for yourself or your kids:

  • An external battery pack. Your phone is going to go through juice faster than you can believe playing this game.
  • A beefed up data plan. If you haven’t played an AR game before you’re not ready for the amount of data you’re about to blow through.
  • A second device with mobile data. Playing on one while the other is charging is the only way to go.

There’s also a reality that you’re going to have to accept. Just as being really good at pool is a sign of a misspent youth, great success at Pokémon Go is a function of having lots of free time.

The homeless guy plugged into a powerpoint outside Pilgrim House is going to be playing rings around anyone trying to manage responsibilities in their life. I have strong suspicions that Canberra’s leading players have not slept in weeks.

John Griffiths is the online editor of

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