Some of you may be familiar with the recent dance craze "The Poke Mongo." "Mongo" is, of course, the American version of "Manga," which is the Japanese version of "The Macarena." So "Poke Mongo" is kind of like an omelette is my understanding.
There's an interesting story about the Poke Mongo. A few years back, three contractors were working in my office. One was a perfectly professional lady who was later hired on full-time when their contract was up. Another was a weasely little guy who was constant over in my cube, tugging on my Team Lead's sleeve and begging to be hired full time. Unsurprisingly, he was not.
And then there was the third contractor...
I cannot for the life of me remember the guy's name. But let's call him Mike. Mike was the kind of stereotypical Yoohoo-drinking, message-board-trolling neckbeard that you see all throughout pop culture and yet, strangely, only very rarely in real life. Picture Comic Book Guy from "The Simpsons" blended with the Warcraft player from "South Park." Yeah, about that level.
Now we didn't hear much from Mike. At least, he didn't complain much, which was good. But he also didn't really seem to do much work. Which was not so good, but, hey, it's the government. Hell, I'm writing this blogpost at work right now.
It turns out that what Mike the Neckbeard had been doing all day - in lieu of whatever we were paying him for - was playing a game called Ingress. In fact, he was beta testing it.
Now, Ingress is an augmented reality game. The basic concept is that various real-world landmarks - say, your local church or that statue downtown - are portals through which aliens are trying to contact humanity. The world is divided into the obviously superior green Enlightened and the deranged, worthless blue lunatics of the Resistance. So your goal is to collect various tools to switch real world portals from green to blue, or to keep them the right color, or whatever.
Nowadays, if you say "augmented reality" - or, more likely, if you vaguely outline the concept - even muggles will understand what you're talking about, because of Pokémon Go. But step back just a handful of years ago, and the concept was obscure, maybe even novel.
So Mike was walking around all day, marking various benches and landmarks as potential Ingress portals for the game company. It would have been bad enough if he had just been slacking off at work. But I work on a Navy base. The dude was wandering around pointing his phone at things and hanging around random spots on base at all hours of the day. Now, when you or I play an augmented reality game, we're at least cognizant of our surroundings and a little bit ashamed to be playing a video game in public, so we hide it to the extent that other people might be around and we give a shit. However, I suspect shame played no role in Mike's behavior.
So when the MPs finally rolled up on him and asked him why he was hanging around our decorative anchor at 7:00 am, weirding out passersby, he started to babble on and on about virtual reality and aliens trying to creep into the world. Which led to the MPs bringing him in to his supervisor, and, Mike being a contractor who wasn't doing any goddamned work and was creeping around the base scaring people, he was fired and escorted off base.
Now, that's kind of a funny story in and of it self, but there's a coda. A few years went by and I picked up Ingress, in case you couldn't tell from my bashing those fucking Resistance Smurfs earlier. And lo and behold! I work right on top of a portal. And there are five portals I walk by every morning from my car to the office, and another five or ten within easy walking distance. So while I was playing Ingress, I benefited greatly from Neckbeard Mike's largesse in marking every fucking tree with a funny branch on it as a potential portal.
Then we flash forward to this summer, and the smashing launch of Pokémon Go. It turns out that Niantic, the company that created Ingress, also created Pokémon Go. And rather than start from scratch and spend years beta testing they just overlaid Pokémon over the Ingress map. I don't know if it was deliberate or not, but functionally Ingress turned out to be a beta test for Pokémon's capabilities.
Which means that I'm also now working on top of a Pokéstop, and there are a bunch of Pokéstops within walking distance of me, and two gyms. And all thanks to that one weirdo who worked here a few years ago. Here's to you, Neckbeard Mike, whatever your real name was, wherever you are.
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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