Pokemon Go: The Global Mega Hype

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Pokemon Go became the most downloaded app in the App Store of any app in it’s first week. This is noticeable, everybody and their mother knows about Pokemon Go. Literally. My parents know very little about computers and even less about internet trends, plus they don’t have smartphones. But when I brought up Pokemon Go in a conversation and wanted to explain it to them, it wasn’t even necessary, they already knew about it. And this trend didn’t just blow up in densely populated areas, when I was on vacation in rural Spain this summer, everybody was playing it too.

Now let me explain Pokemon Go for the people who don’t know what the game is actually about. In this game, played on your smartphone, the goal is to capture virtual little monsters, called Pokemon. You train and battle with these Pokemon in order for you to get stronger in the game. Another goal in the game is to capture all the different Pokemon in the game: ‘gotta catch ‘em all!

Obtaining new and diverse Pokemon and items to get stronger is done by the means of walking. Pokemon and items can be found on specific places in the area, and each area differs in the kind of Pokemon that’s there. The app uses the GPS-function on your phone for this. So to catch all the Pokemon you have to walk, a lot. And not just in your own neighborhood, you’ll actually have to go to a bunch of different places to catch them all. The Pokemon seem to appear in real life when you are looking on your phone screen (thanks to your phone’s camera). So it’s necessary to keep looking at your screen, otherwise you might miss some Pokemon. Players are focusing on their phone-screen while walking on the street, this might not sound like the brightest idea.

That’s why the game has had a lot of different reactions, varying from extremely negative to extremely positive. To start of with the negative reactions, there have been various news items about Pokemon Go related accidents. The most recent one I read (while writing this article) was about a Japanese truck driver hitting two women with his truck because he was playing Pokemon Go. One of the women passed away. There have been more incidents like this, for example, in June a teenager in Guatemala got shot and killed because he broke into a house while he was playing the game (probably to catch a rare Pokemon). Some people seem to forget their surroundings while playing this game and it show, when you see a group of people wandering around fixated on their smartphone screen, chances are big they’re playing Pokemon Go. This also gives trouble in less extreme ways. Because so many people are wandering around to catch Pokemon, they sometimes wander of to catch them at inappropriate places, like graveyards and temples. This wouldn’t be a problem if it were just a few people, but just because of the scale of this hype, some public spaces have had to put up signs to ban playing Pokemon Go in that area.

Other public spaces however make great use of the trend. Some bar owners are known to download the app themselves and use in-game items called ‘lures’. This items lures Pokemon to a specific place. The bar owner now practically draws in Pokemon Go players as customers. A lot of the app-players themselves are positive about the game as well (obviously). Pokemon Go makes people get outside more and makes people exercise in a fun way. Because Pokemon appear at the same place for everybody you meet a lot of Pokemon Go players on your journey, which resolved in people making many new friends.

The game creates a topic for people to bond over and gives people an opportunity to fit into a crowd, which many people think is a nice feeling.

Pokemon Go has had some terrible incidents and some very negative effects on society, but is this just because of the app or because of the smartphone culture in general? Another thing we have to keep in mind is that a lot of it’s players actually do pay attention to the real world around them and find a healthy way to incorporate playing the app into their daily lives, without it interfering real life. I personally don’t thing the app is a bad thing, but it should be played with caution. The Pokemon Go app can bring many people together and can be a lot of fun, but please be careful while playing it!

But that’s just my opinion, what do you think about Pokemon Go?

By Mijntje Boon

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