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Monday, July 18, 2016

Thoughts on [and Pros and Cons of] Pokémon Go

How cute is this pattern?! I got it here.

There's a craze that's quite literally swept the globe, and that craze is a little app called Pokémon Go, available for Apple and Android as of my writing this post.

Pokémon Go takes a video game that's beloved by many and steps up its game mechanics. This app uses technology called Augmented Reality to simulate actually "catching" Pokémon in the real world as opposed to on a GameBoy screen.

While I applaud Nintendo for actually stepping outside of the video game console box, it's certainly not the story-driven game I grew up with as a child. Nevertheless, I can think of quite a few pros and cons with this game, especially after having played it for a few days now.

My character near some designated Pokéstops

Pro: It encourages actually "going" places.
Pokémon Go uses Google Maps' GPS system to run, so you can find Pokémon from quite literally anywhere on the map (provided your country supports the game). While it is possible to "catch" Pokémon critters in your bedroom, it's actually better (and more cost-efficient, as lures to draw the characters to you can cost real-life dollars) if you go outside and explore for yourself.

The cool thing is that the locations that are supposedly prime spots to hunt Pokémon are actual landmarks. And the app actually encourages you to walk to these locations, as some of them are inaccessible otherwise. This is a great way to get out and get exercise, and it's also a great way to actually see what's in your hometown that you might not have known about otherwise.

Con: It doesn't encourage being aware of one's surroundings nearly enough.
While it is fantastic that people are actually getting out and exploring cities and towns, it's not necessarily a good thing that common sense is seemingly being placed on the back burner. Though there is a warning (pictured below), I personally don't feel like it's enough.


For starters, simply looking up from your phone and being aware of people and even cars around you is something that's not being done if you're, well, looking at your phone and are only aware of the Pidgey or other pixellated Pokémon on your phone's screen. And you do have to point your phone in a certain direction to "catch" these Pokémon, so that doesn't help if you're in a particularly crowded place or busy street,

Then, there's the landmark thing. While I mentioned earlier that this is a good thing, the Pokéstops (which are little predetermined spots on your map where you can get goodies like extra Pokéballs and other items for your digital quest) are no respecters of historical significance. For example, the app has received backlash when users attempted to "catch" Pokémon at the Holocaust Museum. And where I live, the Pokéstops are mainly around Civil War battleground sites. So it's not just being physically aware that's important and needing to be addressed further, but also mentally and emotionally aware, too.

Finally, there's the thing with the Pokéstops being at any and all churches. It seems like every church in my area has been highlighted on my map as a place to get goodies. This is a cause of concern, especially as someone who is a member of the church. Make sure that small children know that churches, especially the one you might attend, are for worship, not for collecting digital items. Us millennials need to remember that, too.

Pro: It at least highlights where churches are.
While I don't agree with the fact that churches are highlighted as places to farm items, there is a bright side. If I were hypothetically looking for a church after just moving to a new city, this app might actually help me find where they are. And if Pokémon Go can help other millennials my age find churches as opposed to a Google search - and it's actually making people aware of churches - that's fine by me.

Con: It's being used by people driving.
Guys, don't text and drive, and definitely don't play games and drive (See above regarding common sense seemingly being put on the back burner).

Some of my Pokémon, nickamed and such: Goldie the Goldeen, Bacon the Charmander (my starter), and Christopher the Pidgey (named after Christopher Robin from Winnie the Pooh)

So, what are my thoughts on Pokémon Go (besides the pros and cons mentioned above)?

It's just a fun little game. I'm not consumed by it; I'm not frantically running around town just to catch Pokémon. If I'm sitting as a passenger in a car (key word: passenger), or if I happen to be in an area where I might catch something and give it a goofy and/or adorable nickname (see above), I'll open the app. Then again, I'm also a young adult with a lot on my work plate, and I don't have time to frolic just for Pokémon. In other words, my usage of the app is incredibly casual. I enjoy playing it because of the nostalgia and as a game in general.

All in all, if this game is used with respect and common sense in mind, and if it's treated as that - a game - I say it's fine.

What do you think of Pokémon Go? Let me know down in the comments! :)
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