Gotta catch ’em all?

What is going on with this trend, Pokemon Go? What is happening to the world? I see people in parks, on the beach, on the streets of my hometown glued to their phones, chasing those cute little creatures. The image seems surreal to my eyes. In the past you would rarely see so many people gathered at one place at any given moment. This phenomenon has greatly intrigued me and I’d like to share my thoughts on it, regarding both the good and the bad.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like pokemon. Heck, my first game ever was Pokemon Red and I was a major fan of the anime series when I was a little kid. I also enjoyed all the next generations up to Diamond and Pearl, so it should be made clear that I like Pokemon a great deal as a concept and I am not here to dump hate on the franchise. That said, I believe that Pokemon Go is a great game based on a very innovative idea, which also proved to be quite successful. A game about catching pokemon in the real world, while interacting with other trainers, which happen to be your friends. I’ll even admit that when I was about seven years old I had wished that pokemon would exist in our reality. The problem lies with how the players opt to interact with the game.

While Pokemon Go, is meant to be played on the streets while actively exploring, I often see people hanging out in parks waiting for pokemon to appear. Well, it surely brought people together outside, but they are still on their phones… and they are just sitting around, not exploring, not interacting with each other. I’ve heard people using their job breaks to catch pokemon and dedicate many hours of their days chasing these creatures. This may be a local phenomenon, but I can only report what I can see with my own eyes. I’ve also read on various news sites about people getting killed by incoming cars while playing the game, or getting mugged.

Ok, we had that thing in the past too, it was called World of Warcraft, but WoW was not a a game everyone played. However, now everyone and their mother knows about and plays Pokemon Go, which grinds my gears, since a couple years ago those of us who played video games were considered “nerds”, but that somehow changed overnight. And don’t even get me started about superhero movies.

Let’s not forget, though, to underline the positive effects of the game on our society. First of all, it literally got people out of their homes and beds and brought them together on town squares, streets, parks etc. something no other game ever came close to achieving (except from Ingress maybe, but they are quite similar). It motivated us to go out of our way and explore our cities and discover all the little secrets (and dead bodies) they hide. What is more, it has opened the way for a revolution in the gaming industry, where games utilizing AR (augmented reality) technologies could surface and offer us many more original gaming opportunities.

There are always two sides to every coin and I have made an attempt to share my views on both sides. I’d like to read your thoughts on the topic, as well as more ideas on how Pokemon GO affects our world.

-Dimitris “Onel” Zarachanis

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