My 8 year kid goes down every day in the evening for 2 hours or so to either run around or cycle or play badminton. All 3 activities make me very happy. However yesterday she came back and said excitedly “Daddy, you wont believe what i did. I and 2 bhaiya’s (brothers) spent the entire time searching for Pokemon’s with their cell phones and played Pokemon Go”. I was very surprised.
She went on to say, “I finally know what i am going to do when i grow up, I am going to spend my entire life searching for Pokemon’s”. I was concerned. My instant thought was that you are 8 years now, i have not given you a smart phone yet and certainly am not going to give you a cell phone for several years to come.
Incidentally today’s newspaper has reported a person in UK who has quit his job to play Pokemon Go full time.
Now what is Pokemon Go.
It is an augmented reality game played on the mobile phone where the user goes around hunting for virtual creatures who appear in the real world. There are Pokemon Stops which are public spaces where Pokemons appear frequently. The next step is a PokeMon gym where 2 players can battle it out.
How Pokemon Go works
It uses your GPS. You play by walking around the real world catching virtual monsters like Pikachu in places near your phone location and training them to fight each other.The monsters in it were first popular in the 1990s when they started on the Nintendo Game Boy. Trading cards were a huge hit in schools playgrounds and extensively played as a trading card game, but this is the first time it’s been a smartphone game.
Where did it Start
Launched first in USA, Australia and New Zealand, the game in just a few days caught the imagination of all, becoming so popular that the roll out in other nations including England and India had to be postponed to avoid crashing etc. Pokemon Go topped the app store download chart on both iPhone’s App Store and Google Play just days after its release.The game has dominated gaming charts everywhere.It has been such a big success that it has added more than $7bn (£5.4bn) to Nintendo’s value.
The negative Points
In my view this game proves that most of the People are really living in virtual world than real world. And the truth is they prefer Virtual life which is definitely sad as well as alarming. There have also been plenty of reports of people falling over and grazing or cutting themselves because they’re not paying attention to what’s in front of them while they play.
Some alarming stories/real life examples
The US Holocaust Memorial Museum has asked people not to play Pokemon Go on their phones during their visit. A spokesman for the museum in Washington said that playing the game inside a memorial to victims of Nazism was “extremely inappropriate”.The Arlington National Cemetery, just three miles away from the museum, has also warned off Pokemon players.
In USA, 4 people were arrested after they used the game to lure players to remote places and then rob them at gunpoint. The anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church in the US is the location of a gym in the game, and players planted a Pink Pokemon called ‘Love is Love ‘there. The church has responded with a series of derogatory social media posts and it is becoming an ugly fight in virtual world , threatening to enter the real world as well.
Pokemon Go creatures have even been spotted outside 10 Downing Street, ahead of Theresa May’s first appearance as prime minister. Concerns have been raised over the fact that it can have very broad access to user data – from emails to search history and Google Drive – when users give it access to their Google accounts on iOS devices. Concerns have also been raised about the app’s safety. The chief executive of children’s charity NSPCC warned that adults could use it to prey on children.
I also feel that it could be a security threat as in this world where terror is a reality, in the guise of playing pokemon Go, recce can be made of sensitive government offices and public places. I therefore request the makers not to have any security sensitive spot as a pokemon stop or pokemon gym.
Response of Makers
The makers of the game gave a statement as follows: “We take player safety seriously and want everybody to have a fantastic time exploring while safely playing Pokemon Go. We encourage all people to be aware of their surroundings and to play with friends or family, especially when you’re exploring unfamiliar places. Please remember to be safe and alert at all times, don’t drive and play, abide by local laws, and respect the locations you visit and people you meet during your exploration.” The Makers said they want people to “play with friends when going to new or unfamiliar places” and “remember to be safe and alert at all times”.
In the end however, one has to accept that Pokemon Go is a reality. Will the craze continue ? Or will the craze vanish, like it did with games like angry birds, or subway surfers or farmville or candy crush saga. One advantage and difference is that those were stationary mobile phone games, while this is an augmented reality one. So its chances of success and continued success are much much more.
The choice is ours. Whether to treat it as a game for relaxation, or to allow it to be an obsession, so much so we prefer it to cycling, or jogging or walking or reading a book or watching a movie. it is up to us, whether to allow it to be a menace or simply use it as a means to enjoy our childhood or to revisit our teens.