As I write this I can see what can only be described as a swarm of 20-somethings wandering around Occoquan, the quaint small town where our office is located, with their smart phones leading them to and fro. After some initial confusion on my part, I recalled a story on the news last night about the “Pokemon Go” phenomenon where the new app leads users to find game items via the GPS function of a smart phone. Admittedly seeing these millennials wandering around playing this game brought out my grumpy old man “get off my lawn” tendencies but then I started thinking about the possibilities.
The first possibility was one that was on the news last night telling stories of players who were so distracted they walked into poles, traffic, other people, etc., and/or suffered injuries of one sort or another. Apparently the game is not smart enough to alert users about these hazards. So I started thinking wouldn’t it be great if the game could incorporate some real life issues into it that would help the player “win” in some important areas like legal readiness and planning for their financial futures.
The hazard scenarios in playing the game could be addressed at the outset by asking the player if they had completed their organ donation card yet. Or had they given a loved on a Durable General Power of Attorney (DGPOA) to be able to take care of things for them if they became disabled? Even a dependent child if over the age of 18 (I am talking about your young “adult” college student or remain at home child here) needs a DGPOA or other legal documents to allow a parent or significant other to act for them in the case of disabling injury without having to go to court.
Similarly, what if the injuries sustained while playing were life threatening? Would the player’s loved ones know what they would want in terms of end of life care? Would they have the legal authority to act even if they did? And of course in the event of the ultimate tragedy of someone dying unexpectedly, there is no place in the “Pokemon Go” game for the player to get a Will in place before this sad occurrence.
Okay, so those are the depressing aspects of the “game.” So let’s look for an additional feature of the game that would tell players the importance of not just capturing creatures (or whatever it is they do—I am still not sure) but the benefits of saving early and allowing the real magic of compound interest to work for you. Or to set up a spending plan so they don’t run out of resources in the real world before they can get a money “recharge.” Or about the “free money” aspects of Roth IRAs or employer contributions to retirement plans. These could be considered “power up” parts of the game.
Despite my curmudgeonly tendencies these days I am happy to see young folks getting out and enjoying a nice sunny day, getting some exercise, and communicating with one another, albeit with a smart phone in their hands and having cryptic conversations about things I can’t understand. So, good for them. I hope that the less fun things I mentioned in this article are things they already have thought about and taken care of. I am not confident of that though, since statistics show that most people (of all ages) have not taken care of the essentials of legal and financial readiness. That is unfortunate. Not just for the person who becomes injured, disabled, or suffers an untimely death. But for their loved ones left trying to work through both the emotional impact of what is going on but also having to deal with legal matters or financial consequences. Too bad there is not game or app for that….