The Pokémon franchise plays upon the popular Japanese pastime of bug catching. Pokémania first struck in the late 1990s via Nintendo computer games and now incorporates books, comics, toys, TV shows, movies and – as so many parents and teachers know/dread – trading cards.
With Pokémon Go, the franchise has moved from the imaginary world into our actual one. Using the cameras and GPS function in our smartphones, we are compelled to move around in real life and time pursuing Pokémon in the game.
Here’s what many fans and critics say about Pokemon Go.
Why I love Pokémon Go
I played Pokémon when I was a kid and had a card collection. Now I’m stoked to be able to see and interact in real life with the monsters that I know so well.
The game really does augment my reality. Suddenly, I’m a tourist and adventurer in my own town. I’m going to landmarks, playgrounds, wetlands, bars, shops and offices, many of which have become Pokéstops. I’m meeting people at Pokémon Go events and am ever eager to discuss how I’ve built up and trained my stable of monsters.
I know that there are drawbacks and dangers. Indeed, the game constantly warns you to watch where you’re going. Accidents have occurred, but when millions of people do anything there’s bound to be mishaps.
It’s a game. It’s fun. It’s free. It’s the future. And it’s only going to get better! Soon it will incorporate a multiplayer function so that our monsters can battle against one another. And the Pokémon Go Plus wristband will tell us when monsters are nearby so that we don’t have to have our phones out all of the time. We’ll enjoy the best of both worlds, in one.
Why I loathe and fear Pokémon Go
This app diminishes our reality and degrades us as people.
Are we really connecting with anything or anyone through Pokémon Go? It’s just another distraction, a way for people to stare into little screens instead of truly engaging with their surrounds and one another. For every hour that we spend playing this game, we lose an hour of our lives.
Already the game has led youth to sordid and morbid places. One young person in the US discovered a corpse while she was on the Pokémon Go. And there’s a report of robbers using the app to lure hapless victims.
What will happen when players are able to meet so that their virtual monsters can fight? Invariably the ultra-competitiveness and violence that’s promoted in the game will spill over into real life.
Pokémon Go is unimaginative, both in terms of the developers and the players. What does it say about our culture when ideas and products from the not so recent past are constantly revived or rebooted? What capacity or drive is there for true innovation and creativity? What does it say about our civilisation that people constantly seek to revisit adolescent fads and find themselves trapped within their childhood fantasies?
It’s time to grow up and get real.
There are a series of Pokemon Go-related events on around town in coming days, starting with Reload Bar & Games’s Pokepartybus tour at 5.45 tonight: Check the event out on Facebook
Book tickets via Eventbrite
From 8.30pm tonight, there’s a lure party at Questacon: See Facebook for details
Mr Wolf will host a Pokemon Go party with lures from 10pm this evening too: See Facebook event for more.
At noon on Saturday, Pokemon Go players will gather at Lake Tuggeranong: Details here.
The most popular event so far based on sign-ups on Facebook is the Pokémon hunt at 12pm on Sunday at Canberra’s Legislative Assembly. At the time of writing around 3,900 people/trainers/avatars registered their interest in the event, with 1,400 others saying that they would attend.
The Old Bus Depot Markets at Kingston are going Pokemon Go crazy on Sunday as well, setting up lure modules every 30 minutes. Click here for details.
What do you make of Pokémon Go? Are you a fan or a critic? What does it say about us, our times, our reality and where we are going?
Kim Huynh teaches international relations at the ANU. He’s only a level 2 Pokémon trainer, but is hoping to expand his Pokédex with some more stardust and effort.