Gotta Catch ‘Em All!

Since when did adults become engrossed in games originally designed for children?

This advert for the new Pokémon craze features just one child (sandwiched between two adults) and a whole host of hip thirty somethings.

Gotta Catch ‘Em All! we are told, as the three-minute promotion wraps itself up and shows us an image of the globe. Interesting stuff!


Now there’s a slogan which catches my eye. Who’s catching whom? There are two ways of interpreting this message. It could be telling us that adults – the target market, remember – have to catch all the characters in the game OR it could be telling us that the purpose of the game is to ‘catch’ all the people playing it (Catch in this case would equal ‘entrap’). Which of those messages do you read into the slogan?

Going back a few years, I remember seeing a TV ad for the Wii. There they were again those hip thirty somethings, happily playing pretend tennis in their trendy sitting rooms, and I thought to myself: Isn’t this machine supposed to be for kids’ entertainment? I found it hard to believe adults would become hooked on such a thing, but that was the clear insinuation of the promotion and so they were obviously the target market. With Pokémon Go I see it’s the same story.

From what I have learned so far, this game is about hunting down virtual characters in the real world, using your smartphone. However odd a concept that may appear, it is obviously catching on big time within a certain adult demographic. This man has even quit his job to become a full time player (I haven’t asked how he makes money out of it).

Whether I am concerned or not about the potential harmful effects to the user of this game (not to mention the effects upon the ‘real worlders’ caught in the hunting zone at the same time) people will continue to play it until the next even more addictive alternative comes along.

What I find interesting is how the virtual is catching up with the real. At some stage will it not draw level, then actually supercede the real, rendering the world we have always known as superfluous? How strange that would be!! Pokémon Go looks to me like a forerunner, a template if you will, for this to come about.

What do you make of this mix of the virtual and the real? 

I should make clear that I am in no way opposed to the use of virtual resources for learning. On the contrary, as you know I strongly support the internet as a tool for children to learn Spanish, and in my next blog post I will take a look at how Speekee deliberately combines the virtual and the real in its own, rather gentle way.

See you then,


Jim Porter is a co-founder of Speekee®, the most comprehensive Spanish for kids learning program ever to appear online. Jim’s work includes this homeschool Spanish curriculum and this homeschool Spanish curriculum (not a misprint – he wrote two!) and this Primary School Spanish curriculum.

Jim began his Spanish learning journey in 1990. He has been a language teacher since 1994 and he lives in sunny southern Spain with his two bilingual children. Loves it! More…

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