You may have noticed an influx of people wandering around your neighborhood or perhaps you may have seen packs of young people crowding around areas of interest that would normally be easygoing. Whats going on?
It’s called Pokemon GO, a mobile game based off Nintendo’s Pokémon that has turned out to be a huge cultural phenomenon. The game uses the GPS on your mobile device to track and capture Pokémon located at various locations around the world. One of the unique features of the game is that a Pokémon can be caught while using Augmented reality (AR) – you can catch a Pokémon while looking at its real world location of the.
While Pokémon has been around since the 90s, it has never seen this much success – Pokémon GO has become the most successful mobile game of all time.
Since the game requires players to physically get up and look for Pokémon it has been praised by some for its ability to encourage people to be more active, it has millions of people are roaming around at all hours of the day actively looking for that next Pokémon. Often times players can be seen hanging around PokéStops – notable locations in the real world that are marked in blue on your in-game map. These stops can be neighborhood playgrounds, historical landmarks, and even local businesses.
The thought of getting people to be more active is great, and the game actually does just that – all you need to do is take a look around your neighborhood. You will see that car parked to the side of the road with someone flicking their phone, or perhaps you may see a car driving extremely slow with the passenger pointing their phone towards the window – I have seen drivers do this as well – and you will definitely see more people in areas that normally do not see that many people. You know exactly what they are doing – catching a Pokémon.
Finally, a game that helps promote more physical activity. With so many people now being more active this has to be a good thing right?
It does sound good, but this can also be a problem. Some have expressed their concerns about the impact a game like this has on people’s safety. Having more people out and about is a good thing, but it also means that more people are distracted. This is especially true if people stop becoming aware of their surroundings. There have already been multiple reports of people getting hurt while playing the game. Two men fell from a cliff, people have been robbed and there have been multiple reports of vehicle crashes that involved distracted drivers playing the game. Not to mention others are getting tired of random people wandering around their property or otherwise quite neighborhoods. Yes, people being distracted because of their mobile device isn’t anything new, but adding a wildly popular game to the mix certainly does not help things either.
While the game may have its issues with people being more distracted than they normally are, it does encourage positive things as well. People have found themselves talking more with random people at PokéStops – this is a good thing. Business have capitalized on the influx of Pokémon players that find themselves at their location because of a PokéStop. Reports are already coming in that Niantic, the company behind the game will be partnering with McDonald’s to make every restaurant a PokéStop or gym. This would for sure counter the active lifestyle approach that some equate with the game.
Last but not least, Pokémon GO is freemium – a pricing strategy by which a product or service is provided free of charge, but money (premium) is charged for proprietary features, functionality, or virtual goods. At one point while playing the game you will realize that to get anywhere you will have to purchase something. At this point the game becomes an investment – microtransactions are there to nickle-and-dime you away from your “free” game. Soon you will find yourself faced with the decision to buy more Pokéballs or stardust one of two currencies needed in the game to evolve your pet – the other is Pokémon candy, which you can earn by transferring a Pokémon to the professor or by catching a similar Pokémon. Understandably, this is how the developers make their money , but the freemium approach is tricky, and before you know it the once free game has now cost way more than you would be willing to pay for any game.
Regardless of what people think about the game it’s here to stay and is only going to increase in popularity. So if you play the game be safe out there.