Pokémon go or Pokémon no?
September 9, 2016
Pokémon Go allows smartphone owners to catch Pokémon in the real world due to the game’s AR (augmented reality) technology. Players, also referred to as trainers, have to walk, bike and drive to new locations in order to catch different species of Pokémon. While catching, trainers also need to go to local landmarks, labeled as “Pokéstops,” to retrieve game enhancing items. After powering up their Pokémon, trainers are able to pick one of three teams: Instinct, Mystic or Valor. Alongside their team, trainers fight for control of “gyms” to prove their dominance and claim rewards.
I was walking from KHS to the Custard Station when, suddenly, I stopped in my tracks. A wild Snorlax was blocking my path! Clearly, I left my Pokéflute at home. In most situations, the giant sleeping beast would be a devastating dead end. But instead, excitement overcame me as I threw an excellent curveball at the gigantic 1500 CP (combat power) Pokémon. Before long, the Pokéball stood still on the pavement of Argonne.
Pokémon Go has brought this excitement to countless trainers, both young and old, exploring this summer with hopes of becoming a master. Pokémon have undoubtedly taken over Kirkwood. But unlike most invasive species, the 151 original Pokémon have brought a positive sense of exploration, a medium for social interaction and a new reason to exercise. Most importantly, Pokémon Go has brought unlimited fun.
Before Pokémon Go, I never stopped to admire the “Wavy Shoelaces” sculpture on Argonne or read the tiny plaques on the memorial benches in Kirkwood Park. However, Pokémon Go’s carefully placed Pokéstops and gyms have helped me and countless other trainers uncover previously overlooked details about Kirkwood and its landscape. Not only do Pokéstops and gyms have trainers looking at art, they have helped trainers learn about small parks, churches and landmarks they never knew were right around the corner.
Additionally, Pokéstop-dense areas like Kirkwood and Des Peres parks encourage trainers to congregate. Although it’s possible to become a Pokémon master single handedly, quick and lasting success comes in numbers. From strangers working together to lure in Pokémon at the park to close friends teaming up to take control of a gym, Pokémon Go is designed to be a social game. Children, teenagers and adults are leaving their homes to bump into acquaintances, meet new people and spend time with old friends.
Most importantly, while spending time with friends and exploring, Pokémon Go players are exercising. Countless trainers are walking, running and biking between Pokéstops and gyms to catch more Pokémon and restock their in-game supplies. Even more, to hatch their acquired Pokémon eggs the game requires trainers to travel two, five, or even 10 kilometers on foot. Not only does this encourage exercise, it helps trainers see their progress. Instead of being glued to their television, children are up and moving to try and catch their beloved Pokémon.
For countless reasons, Pokémon Go is a beneficial and necessary phenomenon. It isn’t surprising why the game shattered app store download records and poured billions of dollars into Nintendo’s pocket. Pokémon Go, with over 75 million downloads, has trainers exercising, socializing and exploring to become the best there ever was.
Imagine that you are walking around playing Pokémon Go. After a couple of turns and a few Pokestops you wind up in an abandoned alley or dangerous street just as daylight fades. Suddenly, playing Pokémon Go isn’t fun anymore. It’s very real and terrifying. To the outside world you aren’t a high schooler trying to catch a pikachu or a dragonite, you’re a teenager who has wandered onto the wrong street at the wrong time.
Users viewing their surroundings through Pokémon Go’s augmented reality often become distracted, leaving them vulnerable to attack. The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported an incident where a man was robbed by four local teens who found him wandering around playing Pokémon Go at 2 am. Had the victim not been both distracted and playing the game at 2am , he most likely would not have been robbed.
Pokémon Go isn’t just unsafe to those who play while walking. Since the game’s release in July, numerous car accidents have been related to Pokémon Go. For example, USA Today covered a driver in Auburn, Ala. who totaled their car by driving into a tree while playing Pokémon Go. The app is simply so engaging that it distracts its users, and another app that compels its users to look at their phones while driving is a hazard. Every day at least eight people are killed and over 1,600 injured in car accidents caused by distractions (any activity that diverts a driver’s attention away from driving) in the United States, according to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Another issue is the security of Pokémon Go. While playing, the location of users is being tracked by Niantic, meaning somewhere the tracking information of every person with the app is being stored. Fossbytes (a tech news and tutorial website) even published an article claiming that Pokémon Go has already been successfully hacked. If these reports are true, hackers could track people using Pokémon Go in real time.
With millions of people playing, a growing number of incidents raises concern about Pokemon Go’s safety and security. The consequences of the app seem to have crept up while players are distracted by Pokémon Go’s augmented reality.