Pokémon Go has been out for nearly a month. During this short amount of time the quantity of headlines where people were injured while playing PG has skyrocketed. Media outlets everywhere have gone crazy featuring people who claim that Pokémon Go was responsible for their mishaps. But, this raises multiple questions such:
Can we truly blame Pokémon Go for this?
- Are people simply being immature and incapable of accepting responsibility for their own mistakes?
- Was society ready for such a game to spread like wildfire?
(I personally believe the answers are no, yes and maybe)
But, let’s take a look at this from an outside perspective. Pokémon originally released over 20 years ago in Japan as Pokémon Red and Green. During this time Pokémon has ingrained itself into all types of media platforms available. Its reach has been so extensive that it actually managed to become part of our culture similar to characters like Snoopy from Peanuts and Garfield the Cat. This is especially because in the 90’s most of the readers here were young and impressionable children.
Children who were very close to the age of the Pokémon games protagonists. Red and Green (the protagonist and his rival) left a mark on these kids that stayed with them for a long time. Who didn’t dream of turning 10 and setting off on their own journey? Players wished they could follow the footsteps of their avatar in catching them all! But, sadly our very own Pokémon journey would have to wait as we grew older and every new generation would create even more of the monsters. Even in spite of our advances in technology. The 3D games like Gale of Darkness could never truly measure in scale what gamers wanted from a Pokémon game. But, one day Nintendo finally announced it would allow other developers their use of the Pokémon IP.
The bigger news though, was Nintendo announcing an augmented reality app called Pokémon Go. Expectations from the fan base were huge, and people couldn’t wait to start catching their own Pokémon. The hype kept building as people would see the commercials and advertisements for Pokémon Go. Players could finally unleash their inner Pokémon Master in the real world (or as close to it as possible). When PG was finally released, 80 million people around the world downloaded the app to see what the big deal was and they became hooked. Players could now say they live in a Pokémon world and all throughout the magic of augmented reality (AR).
People had been anxiously waiting for this day and the hype was contagious. Suddenly people who had never played Pokémon were actively catching wild monsters too. But, this has had negative repercussions, as people have become consumed by the app. People who would normally be paying attention to their surroundings are being hit by cars; parents are neglecting their children to go catch Pokémon. Even homeowners are pulling guns on strangers wandering into their yards while playing. This comes along with a multitude of other accidents involving people that are playing Pokémon Go.
What could Pokémon Go be doing to cause this influx of mishaps? For starters, it’s bringing out people who are normally reclusive away from their homes. It’s distracting people who are unable to focus away from their phones while doing other tasks. It’s taking away people’s attention from their surroundings and into their cellphones. Basically Pokemon Go is allowing us to live our dreams by functioning as a sort of fantasy escapism device. But, unfortunately Pokémon Go is still at its core just a game. We simply can’t start ignoring the world around us because we are busy catching digital monsters on our phones.
But, it’s happening and while it’s not the apps fault that we can’t control ourselves. It’s a lot easier to blame an inanimate object than it is to look at ourselves and reflect on our mistakes. Pokémon Go is amazing for certain even with its current limitations. It is the closest thing we’ll have to becoming true Pokémon Masters as ourselves and it allows us to live our childhood dream. But, living our dreams at the costs of our lives is not worth it.
Society as a whole was not ready for such a game. Humanity wasn’t prepared for the responsibilities that came with balancing real life against an augmented reality one. If it was then it would stop blaming the game for these accidents. The game is an inanimate object it can’t force you to play it. PG is simply doing what its programmers intended. If people are this distracted by a simple app, what would the repercussions be for creating real living breathing Pokémon? Frankly it scares me to think about it…