One of the hottest video games currently around is Pokémon Go, based on the Pokemon characters where one as a “trainer” is suppose to travel among far off lands in order to “catch” various creatures and monsters, and use these beings to fight among each other. The object of this game is to catch them all, (or as the tag line went, “you gotta catch ‘em all”), and to become a master of Pokemon by defeating other highly regarded trainers and masters known as gym leaders as well as a group called The Elite Four.
Unlike the original Pokemon game, first introduced in the USA by video game maker Nintendo in the late 1990’s and became a massive hit, spinning out an “anime” type cartoon TV series and a number of feature length animated films where many of its character names were “Americanized” for a North American english speaking audience, the latest entry to the Pokemon franchise as created by three companies, Nintendo, Pokémon Co. (partly owned by Nintendo) and Niantic, is played via a smartphone app (both platforms), that is an augmented reality game, mixing real-world elements within the game were its object is to catch ‘em all!
This latest game app comes from a semi-dormant franchise that has become a hit again! It’s also for those that take advantage of games played via a mobile device, rather than through the video games of old where one was once anchored in front of a video (read: television) screen, playing among either themselves or who just happens to be in the same room–assuming there’s a second (or third) joystick available!
It’s really no surprise to note that this game is played for the most part, by those that were raised on video games i.e. the ever lovin’ Millenniums (those born after 1980) whose first video games consisted of a dedicated desktop device that was connected to a TV set whose participants were the player(s) with the joystick(s)–and that was about it!
Although set top devices still exist, the real rage within the last few seasons were devices connected to others that had access to an internet connection. The new twist of Pokemon Go is it’s only played via a smartphone running on Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android operating system. It uses the phone’s GPS application and clock to decide which Pokémon is to appear within the game. For instance, if a “trainer” is playing in a park-type setting, more bug and grass types appear. If one is by a lake or other body of water, water types creatures are present. If one is playing after dark, more nocturnal ghost and fairy types are seen. In other words, Pokémon won’t just come to you. Trainers have to journey through the player’s real world to order to catch ’em all.
What also makes this game the big hit is the fact that it was introduced with little fanfare or “buzz” around July 6th. It has since been downloaded millions of times, and it’s just as popular as this title became some twenty or so years ago! As noted in a previous paragraph, many of its players are those Millenniums where they can obtain their nostalgic fix from the 1990’s-the decade where many of these members first came of age. It’s also popular with its next generation called “Generation Z”, a demographic that describes anyone under the age of eighteen. (Using 2016 as its base year, that is anyone born from 1999 onward.)
Marketers are using the “Gen Z’s” as the latest audience to target products and services that of course, cater to the teen and “tweener” demographic. This is the group that those same marketers and others in the related industries label as “Millennials on Steroids”, just because they embrace social media and other forms of mass technology at all costs. These are the groups where cell phones, computer devices, and the internet to connect them all has always been around. The parents and/or caretakers, those that are of the “Gen Xers” crowd born between 1965 through 1979. were the ones to introduce their kids to such high tech antics by giving them their first smartphones to use and abuse. (The average age for a kid to get a smartphone for the first time is around ten years old, but kids as young as seven has been seen playing with these newfangled phones–not their parents/caretaker’s phones, but devices that are of their own!
And with Pokemon, they see this sort of gaming as their version of nostalgia, although they don’t necessarily remember when Pokemon was first at its peak. But they do know of it being informed from other sources such as parents/caretakers, older siblings/associates, or from notations found via a Google search! This form of nostalgia is called “Nostalgia-Alga”, a term that means a longing of a past one doest’t remember. And for “Gen Z’s’s, that would mean anything that came from the 20th Century!
So as these kids (both as physical and emotionally based) play along with Pokemon and the gang, they better make sure that they are not moving around while engaged with this visual challenge while on the phone. If they are walking and playing, or for worse, driving and playing, they better make sure that they won’t be hit by an object or vice versa. That is something one doesn’t want to catch!
NEWS AND REVIEWS
Opening at the Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood is the world premier of Stefan Marks’ SPACE, a drama about a man recently released from a mental institution for a number of years, how he adjusts now back into a normal world, and how he abides to his mother and the person assigned to assist him to pick up where he had left off.
Stefan Marks is Kurt Finge. As a young boy, he had his dreams of appearing in movies, the sort that were in back and white and were of the musical genre–the kind they also don’t make anymore! When he was nineteen, he was confined to a mental institution where he would spend his next thirty years. Now as a much older man, he comes back to his mother known as “mom” (performed by Rachael Parker). Although Kurt is out on his own, he has supervised visits with Ann (Samantha Smart), the facilitator from the institution what he was released from. Ann serves as the person to guide him back within his life. But over through time and “space”, there are the inner issues that Kurt must face in terms of relationship bonding between his mother, Ann, and from a distance, his long absent father. (Michael Matthys).
This rather dark drama, written, directed, and even featuring Stefan Marks in the lead role, is presented in a semi linear fashion that tells the tale of Kurt, adjusting to his outside while still attempting to adjust from his inside–both as a physical and emotional stance. Rachael Parker as Mom is seen as a hard scrubbed woman who holds an image to a mother figure from the 1940’s. She’s far from being a member of the happy housewife group, and has her own issues that post a linear point of view as with her only son. Ann, the institute’s facilitator as performed by Samantha Smart, serves not only as the professional to keep Kurt back on his own track, but also exists as both a mother figure (unlike Mom), and one where he holds a sexual relationship with–a notion where she holds an honor to break herself upon. Michael Matthys (alternating with Joel Flynn) as Dad is only seen in flashbacks as he was physically present (he took a hot air balloon trip and vanished) long before Kurt was housed beyond his control.
Adding to the play’s themes is the scenic designs that enhance the production, from Stefan Marks’ set design (in addition to his acting, directing, and playwriting), to Stephen Epistein’s multimedia animation. Three separate monitors placed on to tops of stage left, right, and center set utilizes some of the illustrations that tell the inner thinkings of Kurt and his company. And as a twist, there are some original songs presented as composed by Stefan Marks (again), and arranged by Chris Hardin. Those musical interludes do not makes this stage piece as a musical per se, or even as a “play with songs”! They exist as Kurt desired to create movie musicals, and this is as close as he had wanted to receive his personal dream!
SPACE is a very interesting and rather unique stage production. Although it’s technically a drama, there are some comical interludes injected, but not in any joke or gag styling! The “drama” elements are intense, and shows this fact from its opening scene to is concluding moment that ends “cold”. With all of these mixed aspects as part of this play, it’s recommend to pay close attention as each facet is not to be overlooked!
SPACE, presented by Crooked Arrow Productions and performs at the Stella Adler Theatre’s main stage, 6773 Hollywood Blvd. at Highland Avenue, Hollywood, until August 20th. Showtimes are Thursday through Saturday nights at 8:00 PM. For ticket reservations or for more information, call (747) 777-2878, or online at http://www.BrownPaperTickets.com/event/2565920.
Additional information can also be found at the play’s official website at http://www.SpaceThePlay.com
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