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All Places > The Communication COMMunity > Blog > 2016 > July
2016

When I was six years old, I caught a Pikachu while playing Pokémon Red on my first Gameboy. For me, it was a pretty momentous event, but who did I share the experience with?

  • A few playground friends who shrugged me off to play double-dutch.
  • My parents who told me to go play with the other kids.
  • And finally, my older brother who took my Gameboy away to prove to me he could raise a Pikachu better than I could.

Unless I was showing off my Pokédex or card collection, my young gaming experiences were mostly solitary, but today, gaming is no longer restricted to the individual. All major gaming consoles, like Xbox or PlayStation, come with their own internet-based social media access, allowing player to connect, play with, and share achievements with a vast expanse of old and new friends. Players can feel like they’re being social without actually being around anyone, which is an improvement from past gaming technology, but still doesn’t help players sharpen their interpersonal skills in the way real-life interactions would.

 

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Pokémon Go has taken gaming to the next step. When asked about this new craze, Media & Culture author Christopher Martin said:

 

"This game bridges the gap between gaming and augmented reality. It literally takes the game everywhere, out into the community, out into the world."

 

It would be difficult to find a Pokémon Go player who disagrees. Unlike most gaming platforms (and unlike many social media networks), Pokémon Go encourages communication in the real, physical world, rather than in front of a console. Pokémon Go players often get together in search of a Pikachu or a Charmander; there are even Facebook groups for particular geographic regions(Pokémon Go in the Hudson Valley, for example), which plan walks and meetups for different Pokémon Go Teams (Valor, Mystic, and Instinct).  When I joined, there were about fifty members from my hometown. Now there are almost 1,000. While I am strategizing with members on how to take over different “gyms” nearby, I’m also connecting with people from my high school that I’ve *gasp* never spoken to before.

 

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Like all forms of communication, there is a dark side to Pokémon Go. People are walking into traffic and crashing their cars while playing, while some criminals are even using lure modules as bait for robberies.

Rather than focus on the negative conflicts arising from these events, I’d like to stay a little more upbeat about the future of gaming and augmented reality, and how these can improve the ways we communicate. A shared love of Pokémon Go   is transcending social norms. People of all ages, ethnic groups, and social backgrounds can be seen huddling at Pokéstops, lure modules, and areas of high activity. Real world gaming is making it easier for people to connect with each other without most of the anxieties they may usually face. It’s an unspoken invitation to communicate.

“Hey, there’s a Legendary around here!”

“What’d you catch?”

“There’s a Pokémon here I couldn’t get! Can you give me some advice?”

“Let’s meet up and get our gym back.”

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Joseph Ortiz is a Professor at Scottsdale Community College in Scottsdale, AZ. He is the author of Choices & Connections: An Introduction to Communication, 2e.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q. What courses are you teaching next semester?

JO: During the fall term, I teach two courses: Introduction to Human Communication and Interpersonal Communication. For the spring term, an introductory small group communication course—and occasionally digital storytelling-- is added to the mix.

 

Q: What advice do you give your students who have public speaking anxiety or general communication apprehension?

JO: Start your preparation early. Know the central idea to be communicated. Compose a structured outline and practice with it. Get feedback from trusted others. I design my course in a way that builds upon these steps using low-stakes speech assignments to help students gain confidence.

 

Q: What has been your favorite course to teach and why? What advice do you have for other instructors who teach this course?

JO: I really enjoy teaching the Introduction to Human Communication. It’s an opportunity to introduce students to the breadth and richness of our discipline while providing them with life skills. My advice to others teaching this course is to identify three to five “take-aways” for the course. In other words, several years from now, what do you want students to

remember about your course? For example, I want students to be poised and confident when presenting messages. Develop ways of integrating these “big ideas” as recurring themes in your lesson planning, assignments, and assessments.

 

Q: What are some of your research interests?

JO: The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL).

 

Q: If you could create (and teach) a brand new course for your department, what would it be?

JO: Communication Ethics and Responsibility.

 

Q: What do you think is one of the biggest challenges students face now when they enter college?

JO: Many students at a community college are uncertain about their academic purpose. Additionally, they are often underprepared for college level work. I respond to this challenge by creating an engaging and personally relevant course experience, and by having early interventions to direct students to academic support resources when needed. I’m fortunate to be on a campus with highly qualified staff that provides high-impact tutorial support, counseling services, and academic advisement.

 

Q: What motivates you to continue teaching?

JO: Students amaze and challenge me. I love learning about their views of relationships, technology, social issues, and popular culture. I remain a student at heart without compromising the boundary of professionalism.

 

On a personal note...

Q: How do you spend your time when you're not teaching?

JO: I treasure time with my family. I also enjoy reading and following sports. During the summer, I succumb to the Siren Song of Netflix; I’m presently binging on Cheers.

 

Q: What are some of your hobbies?

JO: I’m a leisure cyclist. Scottsdale has a system of beautiful bike paths for riding. I also enjoy discovering craft beers, and I’m trying to find the nerve to brew my own!

 

Q: If you hadn't pursued a career in higher education, what career path do you think you would have chosen?

JO: I started college with plans to attend law school. I would likely be practicing law in the public sector focusing on human rights, life quality, and social justice.

 

Q: What was the last book you read?

JO: Lab Girl by Hope Jahren. It is an insightful look at one woman’s experience in the STEM field with detours into fascinating facts about botany and ecology.

 

Q: What book has influenced you most?

JO: It’s tough to identify a single book. From a personal standpoint, I would have to say, To Have or To Be? By Erich Fromm. The book broadened my perspective of the fundamental question of what it means to live happily. Among the books that influenced my teaching is The New Peoplemaking by Virginia Satir. I read her work early in my career, and it helped shape my experiential approach to teaching communication skills.

 

Q: Where is one place you want to travel to, but have never been?

JO: I want to see the Vatican for its religious and historical significance, and the art.

 

Q: When you sit down to listen to music, which artists or genres do you go to most?

JO: My musical taste is eclectic, ranging from composer, John Rutter, to Pitbull. But my playlist is heavily populated with 70’s classic rock and pop music. And I will stop anything I’m doing and listen reverently to any music written or produced by Burt Bacharach.

 

Q: What is something you want to learn in the next year (Communication-related or otherwise)?

JO: Although I can cultivate a great flowerbed, I’m a frustrated vegetable gardener. I want to get better at container gardening, especially root vegetables.

 

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you (i.e. What's your "fun fact"?)?

JO: I was a competitive long distance runner in college. In the late 70’s, I was a founding member of a still thriving running club (over 500 members now) in Southeast Texas called, The Sea Rim Striders (www.searimstriders.org/whoweare.php).