Pokemon Go CEO wants you to get back outside, but safely

Niantic popup at HPWU Fan Festival
Niantic popup at HPWU Fan Festival (Image credit: iMore)

John Hanke's Niantic was formed on the idea that you need to get out of your own head and explore the world around you. Ingress, Pokemon Go, and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite all exist as intense games with a heavy focus on getting outside and walking. Go check out that landmark you've only ever driven by, or enjoy meeting people you otherwise never would have made eye contact with. Get outside and enjoy the world with the help of this video game. And it's worked, spectacularly, until COVID-19 forced everyone indoors for their own safety and the safety of others.

In a blog post published today, John Hanke makes the case for why you should safely get back to walking around and exploring even in this difficult time and hopes you'll join him in sharing photos of your walks with the hashtag #walkdaily.

Hanke's words aren't particularly complicated, but they maybe lack the neccesary universality you might expect when reading the blog post. His case for going out couldn't be more clear:

...the walk, the solo walk or the stroll with our quarantine partners, that is a pleasure we should indulge. Social distancing observed, mask worn if needed, definitely. This has not been without controversy. Even as journalists, medical professionals and politicians alike have endorsed the concept of a daily dose of outdoor exercise even under quarantine, a moral spectre looms and the wrong tweet is likely to lead to an eruption of angst-- Is that walk truly essential? Wouldn't we all be better off if we just stayed inside and maybe binged another show on Netflix?I want to offer an emphatic no!

And for the most part, he's exactly right. Getting outside right now, as safely as possible, is good for everyone. Unfortunately, it's not always possible to be as safe as you need to be. Social media is filled with images and video of parks full to bursting, of sidewalks busier than ever, and of beaches with entirely too many people side by side. Hanke does make it clear it's important to be safe when going out, but it's difficult to argue he's placed the appropriate emphasis on this point, chosing instead to wax poetic about how nice it is to see everyone in his neighborhood out and about instead of just binging Netflix.

Respectfuly, John, not everyone lives in a neighborhood quite as nice as yours. Some of us are significantly more limited in available free space, and that's where a massive amount of the people who play your games live.

Go out and be safe if you can, play these great games to keep your mind busy while you wander, but please only do so if you know you can do it safely. Wear a mask. Stay at least six feet apart from people you are not quarantined with. Wash your hands excessively. Keep hand sanitizer on you if you can. If it's possible to do all of these things, have as much fun as you can exploring the world around you. If following these basic steps proves difficult, and you can't find another place nearby, stop. Your health is not worth it.

Russell Holly

Russell is a Contributing Editor at iMore. He's a passionate futurist whose trusty iPad mini is never far from reach. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Reach out on Twitter!