A Global Phenomenon: From Avatars to Key Work Skills
Dianna Blake and her son were interviewed by an ABC affiliate in Los Angeles. The story:
First things first:
If you’re not familiar with all the ins and outs of this mobile app that is sweeping the globe, Vox has published a really useful story called “Pokemon Go: 9 Questions About the Game You Were Afraid to Ask.”
This is exactly where Dianna Blake started.
She’s a mom, a graduate student, a blogger for moms in college, an emerging author—and this fall, a professor of English composition at California State University, Fullerton.
“My social feeds were blowing up with posts about this new game,” Dianna says. “I glanced at the logo and it looked sketchy. I wondered: what was going on?”
“Seeing my friends stressed out over finding characters blew my mind,” she says.
‘We Fell Pretty Hard For It’
“I decided to download the app,” Dianna says, “and happened to mention it to my son when I picked him up from Vacation Bible School.”
Her son’s name is Matthew and he’s 14.
“He perked up,” Dianna says, “and said ‘That’s the new thing.'”
Then she fell in love, in a matter of speaking.
“Matthew and I played together on the way home that night,” Dianna says, “and we fell pretty hard for it.”
“I’ve already Tweeted J.K. Rowling and told her ‘If you build a world like this in an app, I will live on it!'”
A New Bond Between Mother and Son
Matthew has been diagnosed with high-functioning autism.
“Our interests are very different,” Dianna says. “I’m an academic, he is so in to gaming and computers. He dives in to that world and, often, we don’t have much to talk about.”
“This game has really built a new bridge between mother and son,” she says.
Last week, Dianna and Matthew caught a Pokemon character in their kitchen.
They’ve started going on walks to the park after sundown, looking for characters together.
They play together on car trips. She drives, he holds the phone.
“He never would go voluntarily on walks before,” Dianna says. “and he’s been able to teach me about the game while we’re together.”
“Matthew educates me about Pokemon, even correcting my grammar as we’re talking about the game,” she says.
Using the Game’s Strengths to Be a Better Teacher
“My three kids so often talk about social memes and characters and I have no idea what they’re talking about,” Dianna says.
“This game has invited me to be young again and to share a childhood gaming experience with my son,” she says.
“Matthew is more active, I’m able to get him out in the sunlight,” Dianna says, “and most importantly, we’re doing this together.”
As Dianna and Matthew continue collecting Pokemon characters and increased their status on the game—they’re now a Level 9 player on Team Instinct—it’s given her some ideas about classes she’s start teaching in the fall.
“This game is teaching students really important workplace skills like collaboration, oral communication, teamwork,” Dianna says. “We see groups all the time asking each other who they’ve caught and what team they’re playing for.”
“So I want to use this kind of experience in my class,” she says.
She plans a Pokemon Go-like scavenger hunt on the first day of class this fall.
“My students can work together to find places on campus,” Dianna says. “Hopefully, this gets them motivated, it encourages discussion, and it helps me relate to my students in a fresh way.”
“Just like this new door has been opened up with my son.”