Pokemon Go, Go, Go!!!

Posted by on Jul 21, 2016 in People and Culture

Summer is a great time to get swept up in the latest cultural phenomenon. Surely, 2016 will be known as the summer people came together to hunt Pokemon. Given the sheer numbers of people playing, btw assumes a large number of our readers already know what we’re talking about. But, in case you don’t yet know, or if you are tired of parents asking what the big deal is, we have your back.

Gaming IRL

Pokemon is a media franchise that started as a video game made popular by Nintendo, one of the largest video game companies in the world. The goal of the Pokemon Go is to find and “capture” a wide variety of fictional monsters surrounding us “in real life” (IRL). The app gives you a trainer who receives a “starter Pokemon” (these fictional monsters that have varying characteristics and abilities). The major goal of the game is to capture, collect and train a team of Pokemon, and then to compete against other trainers with your Pokemon team.

Man sitting in the car and holding tablet pc with map gps navigation application.

No matter how much fun you’re having catching Pokemon, don’t do it while driving! Credit: Africa Studio / Shutterstock

The appeal of Pokemon Go is that the world of the game has been translated to the real world, with the assistance of the GPS and camera functions in our mobile devices. Players download the app to their phone or tablet and customized their trainer avatar. A virtual map helps players go in search of Pokemon, with local landmarks transformed into PokeStops (designated landmarks populated by the creatures) and PokeGyms (also landmarks, but specific places where battles occur). Players capture Pokemon by throwing virtual ball-shaped traps at them. This utilizes the touch screen functions of the user’s mobile devices. There are also rare eggs that players can also collect, but they will only hatch after a six-mile walk.

Response and Concerns

Within one week of release, Pokemon Go became the most active mobile game in history, with more than 21 million active users. Nostalgia is one reason, as millennials in particular are of the right age to develop a sentimental fondness for childhood. Parks, museums, attractions, businesses and other public places all around the world have been designated hotspots in the game, based on computer algorithms in Google Maps. These areas include Pokestops, Pokegyms, or areas where lots of trappable Pokemon are hanging out are experiencing a considerable increase in attendance and business. In addition to a sense of community, the game’s supporters say that it is promoting an active lifestyle, encouraging people to walk around their neighborhoods and communities in search of hidden Pokemon.

On the other hand, the pervasive culture is causing some concern. Security is one. In order to download the app, users must grant “full account access” on one’s device. Nintendo issued a statement ensuring players they were only interested in a user’s ID, but security experts fear the technology falling into the wrong hands.

Mass distraction has some groups of critics concerned as well. As the popularity of the game swelled, news stories also appeared of people attempting to play while driving, or stopping in the road to catch a Pokemon.

Sensitivity to others and an awareness of appropriateness is another issue. Because a wide collection of public institutions are adjusting to crowds of enthusiastic players, some people are angry for the intrusion. Because the locations are based on algorithms in Google Maps, the game’s choices were indiscriminate. So, unfortunately, places such as the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, was swarmed with players who upset museum visitors and other social critics. The operators of the Museum has issued appeals that gamers do not hunt for Pokemon in their museum–disturbing the experience of museum-goers who are there for other reasons. Nintendo and Niantic Labs (the development company responsible for Pokemon Go) released a statement saying that people could report inappropriate locations or content by submitting a ticket on its Web site.

What Do You Think? Are you playing Pokemon Go? If so, write a paragraph about your experience. If not, how likely are you to do so? Explain your answer.