Pokémon Go: Gotta Catch ‘Em All

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Pokemon Go or No? Photo: Flickr
Pokemon Go or No? Photo: Flickr

Finally, the TV show every 90s kid was devoted to has come to life.

Remember being a kid, saying, “I wish I could be a Pokémon trainer” or “imagine if Pokémon were real?!”. Well, thanks to Niantic and the creators of Pokémon, now you can and they are (sort of).

Pokémon Go is a smartphone app which allows you to go out and catch Pokémon in the real world. Explore your surroundings using real world locations with your customised Pokémon Trainer. Join a team and battle at gyms – and it’s free to play.

However, the app has been a hot topic in the media for many reasons, some which are less positive.

Let’s start with some cons.

It’s distracting:

Incidents involving Pokémon Go made recent headlines, involving people being distracted while using the app.

A girl found herself in a hospital with a foot injury after only half an hour of playing the game.

“I slipped and fell down a ditch. Fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in my foot, 6-8 weeks for recovery. I told all the doctors I was walking my dog lol… watch where you’re going, folks!,” she said.

A rumoured incident caused by Pokémon Go distraction occurred while driving.

Apparently, a man slammed his breaks in the middle of a highway in the US when he saw a Pikachu pop up on his nearby list. If this is true, the world needs help.

And in Canada, two youngsters got distracted playing Pokémon Go and accidentally crossed the border into the US. They had to be held in Montana by federal agents.

It’s addictive:

Once you start, it’s hard to stop. The concept “gotta catch ‘em all” isn’t easy to let go of and the fact that you can find them anywhere makes the urge to play immense.

Heck, people are playing it in their hospital beds. And even in their workplace… this is concerning.

A note that went viral read: “We are paying you to work, not chase fictional characters with your cell phone all day. Save it for your break time or lunch. Otherwise, you’ll have plenty of time while unemployed to ‘Catch them all.’”

Fair enough.

It’s a false reality:

As we become addicted, spending more time in a small world held in our hands on our smartphone screen than the real world, we become addicted to a false reality.

The Pokémon Go world is fake and as real as they seem, the Pokémon in it are fake, too.

Our body is outside and walking about, but our mind is somewhere else completely, consumed by a world created by an industry to make money.

The things surrounding us in the real world are blocked by the false reality, which is Pokémon Go.

Now for some pros.

It’s social:

Yes. Your headspace is engrossed in your phone. BUT, to play the game, you have to be out-and-about.

There are things called ‘Pokéstops’, which often become crowded with a significant number of people creating a sense of community.

There are people everywhere, from all sorts of backgrounds sharing a common interest in the app.

Instead of sitting by yourself in your room on Netflix and chatting away on Facebook or text, friends and flatmates go out together to catch Pokémon. Much more social.

It’s active:

Pokémon Go is forcing a lot of people to exercise far more than they have in the past.

Hundreds of people are taking to social media, saying how Pokémon Go is helping them achieve health goals. E.g. On Twitter, some ‘tweets’ have read “Pokémon Go is the only way I’m able to exercise” and “Pokémon go has tricked me into exercise, and I’m not mad tbh.”

Poketweets all

To catch Pokémon you have to move and by moving you burn calories – win/win.

To hatch eggs in Pokémon Go, you have to walk 2, 5 or 10km with the app open.

The Google search to convert kilometres into metres has tripled as people have started to plan their routes around the distance for their egg to hatch.

And to add to the positive impact, when you exercise it releases a chemical that reduces stress levels and anxiety. So thank you, Pokémon Go for getting us active.

It’s nostalgic:

Starting in the 90s, every child from that time watched the Pokémon series.

Every 90s kid dreamed of catching real-life Pokémon and being just like Ash Ketchum. Put yourself in ten-year-old YOU shoes. What would you have done?

The game has made those dreams come true.

About 90 percent of adults who downloaded Pokémon Go are between 18 and 34, making them about the right age to have fallen in love with the TV series when it aired.

And now, when you open the app, and your favourite Pokémon appears on your screen all the nostalgia comes rushing in, and there’s just no better feeling.

It’s satisfying:

Accomplishing something is always satisfying. When you play the game, you set goals, without even realising it.

There’s the Pokémon you want to catch, the ones you had soft toy versions of as a kid, your favourites.

Evolving your Pokémon into updated versions of themselves and filling your pokédex.

Defeating other trainers in battles and owning gyms.

Hatching your eggs, gaining CP, building strength, finding nearby Pokémon and finally, CATCHING ‘EM ALL.

It’s satisfying when you achieve these things just like anything else you put your mind to.

In the end, it seems the positives outweigh the negatives. And with simple common sense, you can avoid anything listed in the cons. Really. It doesn’t take a genius to not ‘Pokémon Go and drive’ nor to pick the appropriate times to play the game.

With that said, the game continues to be successful regardless of headlines and warnings. It has its lovers and its haters, like most other things.

Only time can tell how long it will last.

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