High Tech Low Tech No Tech Go Tech

My daughters used to shoot my face, so I’m not too surprised by the Pokemon Go phenomenon. I’m also only a little surprised it hasn’t been released in Japan yet.

As a rule, whenever you read a writer going on about “the Japanese special relationship to technology” or about how Japan is 20 minutes in the future when it comes to technology you can be assured of a couple things:

1) The writer is full of crap.
2) The writer never left Tokyo.
3) the writer never took a local train, only bullet trains or the Tokyo metro and had local help to do it.
4) the writer didn’t try to use WiFi outside the hotel or had a pocket WiFi system.
5) the writer went to a game center.
6) the writer is merely recycling cliches because everyone knows about the special relationship and the writer can’t think of anything else to write about.
7) See number one.

In fact, except for a brief spurt of being out in front with cellphone technology in the pre-iPhone days, Japan usually lags behind in technology use. Government offices still use fax machines and forms have to filled out by hand in triplicate; the school where I work still uses OCR cards for final marks; and until very recently, the train system still required multiple paper tickets for travel, even on the bullet trains. (Actually, it still does, but the system is getting more streamlined.)

The only place the Japanese get out in front of the West is with game technology. A few years ago, our daughters’ Nintendo 3DS systems could take my picture and put it into a game that let the girls chase multiple versions of my face around our apartment and shoot my faces out of the sky and off the bookshelves. My face had monster expressions, including open mouthed roars when the “boss” version of my face showed up.

(Note: as much fun as this “shoot daddy” game was, it was kind of creepy in retrospect.)

However, Pokemon Go will only hit Japan tomorrow (as of this writing) and from what I’ve heard they are expecting a huge, internet breaking response. (Keep in mind, Japan has broken Twitter before, and is a good place to test servers.) (Also, invest in McDonald’s Japan because they are the first sponsor.)

Because no one swarms on to a fad like the Japanese, I don’t fully understand why they didn’t test the system here first. Perhaps Nintendo didn’t think it would catch on here and wanted to attract some attention overseas, counting on the Japanese tendency to want to copy the West’s fads to build interest here.

Either way, McDonald’s restaurants could get crazy soon. I also expect to hear stories of people falling on train tracks.

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