Pokémon Go seems to have surprised just about everyone with its popularity. It set a record in the Apple App Store in the month of July and is already reported to have more active users that Twitter, despite not being available in many parts of the world.
Not only that, but this is one of the first truly popular games to combine exercise with gaming. How many video games have the power to get people outside having fun experiences in the real world while they play? It’s easier than ever to imagine getting kids out of the house if you can combine their activities with hunting for Pokémon.
But while the craze rages on, Pokemon Go has occasionally hit the news for less than positive reasons. Here’s our list of the good, the bad and the ugly of the game.
Benefits to people living with autism – there have been a large number of heart-warming stories about people living with autism who are getting benefits from Pokémon Go. Some children and adults with autism find that they have difficulty getting and socialising due to anxiety, but Pokémon Go has been making things easier.
Lenore Koppelman is one of many parents of children with autism going viral. Her 6-year-old Ralphie, usually quiet and unwilling to socialise, became very happy to chat and enjoyed spending time with others to learn more about Pokémon.
Popularising augmented reality – Pokémon Go is arguably the first augmented reality game that has broken mainstream popularity. Augmented reality makes use of the real world alongside digital game elements added on top of it. Game makers now have the opportunity to explore interesting new ideas with their designs as it has opened up the public eye to this type of gaming.
Exercise – it’s easy to associate video games with a sedentary lifestyle. Whether that stereotype type is true or not, undoubtedly one of the most impressive things about Pokémon Go has been its ability to get people out and walking. One of the most important ways to advance in the game is physically walking around.
Of course, the lazy gamer might be tempted to jump in a car or use a bus to trick the software, but the creator Niantic has been clever enough to monitor both footsteps as well as speed, so it knows if you are using transport other than your legs.
Teething problems – there’s no doubt that there have been some teething problems with the game. When it was first released, unprecedented demand made it difficult for new users to sign up. There were also huge issues with glitches before Niantic was able to roll out a range of updates to deal with them. This was an enormously source of frustration for players – but it doesn’t seem to have put them off; Pokémon Go is reported to already have more active users than Twitter.
Rising phone bills – as players need to use their mobile phone data allowance to continue looking for Pokémon, there have been plenty of cases of rising phone bills. One extreme example was Olympic gymnast Kohei Uchimura, who ran up a £3,700 charge while playing the game in Rio.
Crime – there have unfortunately been a number of examples of criminal activity related to Pokémon Go. In Missouri, USA, a group of teenagers used the lure feature of the game to attract people to locations so they could rob them in real life. There have also been serious violent assaults related to the game. A teenage girl in California was stabbed while out at 2am playing on the app. And in Florida, a victim was shot while sitting in his car by a resident after pulling up outside his house to find Pokémon.
Inappropriate locations – there have been incidents where PokéStops have been placed in quite inappropriate locations around the world. Both the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC and the Hiroshima Memorial Park in Japan have had to request that the in-game locations be removed to allow visitors to properly pay their respects.
Deaths – we have now seen the first death linked to the game. 18-year-old Jerson Lopez de Leon was shot and killed after he broke into a home in Guatemala in an attempt to catch a Pokémon.
Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer working together with Into the Blue.