By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Pokemon game has political connections

It seemed necessary this week to read up on “Pokémon Go,” the game that suddenly exploded into international prominence.

Locally, some urged businesses to use Pokémon to lure players to their storefronts, making the game yet another competitor for marketing services. But when nightly news showed video of a distracted Pokemon player smashing his car into a police cruiser, I wondered just how many of those players should be invited into a china shop.

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Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

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My research was inconclusive, but I found myself wondering if there is some connection between the Pokémon phenomenon and this week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

First, lest I be mistaken for Melania Trump, I want to quote the website, vox.com, giving full credit for these exact words about Pokémon Go:

“Uses your phone’s GPS and clock to detect where and when you are in the game and make Pokémon ‘appear’ around you (on your phone screen) so you can go and catch them. As you move around, different and more types of Pokémon will appear depending on where you are and what time it is … Pokémon Go gives you opportunity to for once forget about all the terrible sh** happening out there, explore the beauty of the world, and catch some Pokémon along the way.”

Some would call this crowd-drawing game simple escapism, which is to say, a classic American hobby. Pokémon seems to qualify as a mindless flight from real-world issues, but of course, people can point to a thousand activities qualifying for that characterization.

Golf, anyone? (Sorry about that, golfers – I would be right there with you barring an old injury.)

Nintendo’s stock value jumped $7.5 billion almost overnight, as we wonder if the company can retain and build the interest of Pokémon players. I could ask the same question about the huge increase in value of Donald Trump’s political stock leading up to this week’s formal GOP nomination.

Speaking of escapism, Trump’s eldest son reportedly commented that his father’s VP would become “the most powerful vice president in history” — overseeing foreign and domestic policy while President Trump stayed focused on “Making America Great Again.”

If Trump becomes president, Pokémon could become the new national pastime as more and more people seek to escape from that reality. But perhaps, President Trump could place imaginary Pokémon along the proposed wall with Mexico, enticing players to bring concrete blocks to help with construction.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

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