A few weeks ago I posted my opinion about the Pokémon Go craze on Facebook.
Surprisingly, within a few hours, I had dozens of comments – both positive and negative – about the popular new game (and I don’t even have that many friends).
Of all the things I’ve posted over the past few years on Facebook, that was the topic that caused the most controversy.
If you haven’t caught up on all the news, Pokémon Go is a game in which players try to capture exotic monsters using their smartphones. Since the virtual creatures are alongside real-world objects, the game encourages players to go out and visit public landmarks.
In just a few days after its launch, the game seems to have taken over the entire world. Although I haven’t seen many people playing it in Burns Lake, you don’t have to go too far to see how big this game has become.
CBC recently reported that business owners in Prince George’s downtown core are getting an influx of new customers thanks to the game. Players are attracted to the downtown core due to its high volume of “pokestops” – in-game areas where you can collect new items and earn points.
But while the game presents some advantages, we’ve also been seeing a great amount of reports of people tripping, falling, being hit by cars, and even being lured to isolated locations where they were robbed. The game is also becoming an inconvenience for some cities. The city of Toronto, for example, has asked Pokémon Go makers to remove a pokestop from a popular ferry terminal because hundreds of people have been camped out almost 24 hours a day by the terminal trying to hunt the virtual monsters.
But what’s surprising to me is that some people have vehemently defended this game, saying it encourages people to “go out and explore the world.”
Well, yes, the extra physical activity can definitely be positive, but I don’t think it’s accurate to say that the game has encouraged people to “go out and explore the world.”
Here’s why. Have you seen videos of large crowds in public spaces hunting playing this game? If you haven’t, I highly recommend that you find one.
I recently watched one where there were hundreds of people in a New York park hunting for the virtual monsters. Honestly, it made me feel sad – they all looked like modern-day zombies (and not in a cool way).
Although there were hundreds of people gathered in that park, it was extremely quiet – they were all staring at their phones without making any eye contact or talking to each other. It felt lifeless (and a tiny bit scary).
As most people in Northern B.C. would know, “going out and exploring” has nothing to do with that image – it’s about being in touch with nature, paying attention to your surroundings, connecting with other people and with yourself. So I definitely don’t buy it when people defend the game by saying it’s making people have a healthier lifestyle. It simply isn’t.
Exploring the world has nothing to do with staring at your phone screen.