My early childhood was one of music, sharks, Star Wars, and of course Pokemon. Being a child of the nineties, my brother and I would wake up every Saturday morning to catch the latest episode of the TV series. My memories of primary school consist of friends trading Pokemon cards and struggling to understand the actual game behind them. I seem to recall a close friend jumping over the school fence and running home in tears after a sour deal, to which the school enforced a ban on the cards. From the video games, of which I had Yellow, Blue and Red, to the numerous film adaptations, Pokemon was and still is an unstoppable money-making, friendship-ruining and money-making franchise thats popularity has never really subsided, clearly evident from the arrival of Pokemon Go.
I’ll admit that Pikachu still holds a place in my heart. However now being at the grand old age of 25, I’ve understandably moved on from the show and the franchise. Yet with technology ever evolving, transforming and it’s prices soaring, we have something that comes more akin to every child’s dream of becoming a Pokemon Master. Well I say “child’s dreams”, but it’s become increasingly evident that the large proportion of players range anywhere from their 20s to their 60s.
Pokemon Go has taken the world by storm, invading everywhere from Holocaust museums, to Bosnian minefields. And coincidently, it’s provided “quality news outlets” with countless horror stories and hilarious incidents to distract us from the shitstorm known as current affairs. The game only arrived here in Japan a couple of weeks ago, and to no surprise everyone and their mums has been swiping their fingers to catch Pidgeys and Zubats. I recently found myself strolling through Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park, only to be greeted by a swarm of teenagers, cyclists, and salary-men taking advantage of the local Pokemon hotspot, and the free Wi-Fi. The local police have made their thoughts on the game clear, carrying out patrols in the area throughout the day and night, loudly and politely asking loiters/ players to vacate the park to no avail. Subsequently, Hiroshima has applied for the Peace Memorial Park to be withdrawn from the game days before its annual memorial ceremony on August 6th. Pokemon Go has been intended to get players to “explore the world around them” while enjoying the thrill of catching Pokemon. And while it’s certainly got people out of their homes, it’s also created news story after news story of people getting robbed and others unwittingly wondering into private property. The game has thus become an inhibitor of common sense and a unequivocal threat to humanity’s sanity, safety and existence. Maybe I exaggerate a tad, but the constant stream of stupidity written on the front pages of newspapers and reported on TV has resulted in a palm-shaped depression quite visible on my forehead.
I have no issue against the game itself . While I understand it to be a buggy, unfinished, feature-lacking and overly-simplistic representation of Pokemon, I haven’t experienced the game first hand. This is not simply because of my reluctance to follow the trend, but my fear about what its effects will be on my iPhone’s Data Usage, and the obvious dread of my soul being slowly sucked out through a 4.7 inch screen with 16:9 resolution and “Retina HD Display”. Thus I’m not qualified to assess Pokemon Go as a video game. But being the cynic I am, I feel that I can complain about it’s accession to cultural phenomenon, and the resulting abandonment of common sense by many people.
To avoid sounding like a complete idiot (unlike this writer), I’ll simply say this; Play the game, “explore” your surroundings but for god sake, use your head. If a police officer is continuously telling you to “Leave the premises!”, then leave the premise. If you see a shady individual wielding a baseball bat while staring at their mobile, don’t assume they’re a fellow Pokemon Master. And when crossing a road, please don’t rely on the consideration of drivers travelling at 40mph. It’s come to the point where Japanese train stations are now regularly announcing that passengers should mind their surroundings while playing games on their smartphones, something that surprisingly wasn’t present before Pokemon Go’s arrival.
People and Pokemon Go can co-exist, but whether that’s in one piece is not the fault of the game itself or the developer, but you as a player. While the injures and problems associated with the game hopefully only represent a small percentage of players, it still showcases our devotion and bondage to technology, while also further highlighting the incurable undercurrent of idiocy each of us has. However like so many people, I don’t think Pokemon Go has the legs to continue on past the next two months. Developer Niantic can churn out their promises of peripheral devices and additional features, but modern society has become one of short attention spans and exhausting the fun out of everything astonishingly quickly. So before it goes the way of Flappy Bird, stay safe and relive your childhood you glorious bastards.