Pokémon has returned with a big bang and has been the cause of great excitement for many people out there, especially for those diehard fans who were obsessed with the series and the game (the original). It seems Niantic’s Pokémon Go has taken the world by storm with its innovative way of getting its players to physically leave their houses in order to ‘catch’ Pokémon species – thus enabling them to see all wonders of the outside world.
Thanks to GPS and augmented reality, we have progressed from catching Pokémon in a fictional world (1990’s) to where we now have to catch them in the real world. However, the return has also been the cause of great controversy due to the possible danger and influence on society this game can have.
The app that has turned the world upside down
News feeds are swarming with incidents ranging from concerts by artists like Beyoncé being interrupted, to some more fatal ones where the lives of people are at stake. All of which boils down to people being so concentrated on playing the game that they pay no attention to their environment.
The game has also received numerous complaints for using locations like cemeteries, memorials and museums – many of which have led to trespassing in order to catch Pokémon.
Warnings have also been issued to drivers playing Pokémon Go, as it has been the cause of numerous accidents and fatal injuries of pedestrians. However, the same holds true for the pedestrians; if they are so concentrated on playing the game that they do not even stop to look left and right, the consequences could be quite dire.
As Fox News stated: ‘From driving accidents to distracted pedestrians and dangerous trespassing, the phenomenal success of Nintendo’s Pokémon Go game is fueling public safety fears.’ Professor Garry Beyer, goes as far as stating ‘Death by Pokémon is coming.’
This might sound like an exaggeration, but it is exactly what happened one fateful night for an 18-year-old boy in Chiquimula when he played the game. Jerson Lopez de Leon and his cousin, who is 17, Daniel Moises Picen (who was shot in the foot), thought it was a good idea to break into a house in order to add to their virtual Pokémon collection.
The Police speculate that the shooters followed the two victims by using their games’ GPS capability. Thus, we see that playing this game – without being careful and aware of our surroundings – is in fact tempting fate with the safety of our lives, as well as those around us.
Pokemon Go players go too far, but what’s next?
One can argue that the initial thought behind this game was never meant to hurt anyone or cause so many fatalities, but that it was born out of the good intention to get people to actually go out to monuments, tourist attractions and the gym. Yet, by following the promptings of a game, it defeats the purpose of going to these places of interest.
Players now only go because they will be getting something out of it – Pokémon. Once they get there, click on their Pokémon, screenshot the moment to document they were there (oh, how we like to document every waking hour of our lives), they then move on to the next place of interest, never truly appreciating the history behind that monument, never really appreciating all their city or other cities have to offer and yes, only going to the gym because you can gain some killer rep in ‘Pokémon World.’
The problem is, once Pokémon Go starts fading out into the background and it will (as any trend does) what will be left of your experience in all those marvelous places? You will only have screenshots bombarded by small creatures.
Your motivation to go the gym will also most likely fade away because it was founded on a world inside your smartphone – not in the investment of your health and wellness; your killer rep would also dissipate into the darkness of that pit of lost apps and games.
Every action has a reaction
Look, I get it – I also felt nostalgic at the idea of reliving my childhood days of playing Pokémon, but it seems like more often than not, the stakes are too high. You might not be causing any trouble, but what about the woman next to you, or the guy driving past you.
If the world would like to go on playing this game, they will have to keep one thing in mind while driving, crossing the road or when they are tempted to trespass after hours – we are still in the real world with real people. In other words: every action has a reaction. Consequences might not be fatal in games, but they are in real life.
So, go on playing if you feel like it – we are allowed to have fun in this world, but just be aware of your surroundings (which, granted, is a word of caution when you open the game) and don’t allow it to rule your life.
It might get you out into the world, but it is up to you to make the choice to lift your eyes up from your screen and actually be present and appreciate the beauty around you, which is so much better than catching a Pokémon, and the memory will last much longer than the screenshot of a picture blotched by a virtual creature.