Tuesday, December 6, 2016
I have to admit… I thought the phrase, “Got to catch them all” would remain a phrase for the past or would be resigned only to references in #ThrowbackThursday posts. So, when I heard that Niantic, Inc. was developing the mobile app, I was quite surprised. Despite my hesitation, I decided to download Pokémon Go to see what all the hype was about. After all, I was an avid player of Pokémon on GameBoy in the fourth and fifth grade, so how bad could it really be?
Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game that integrates with your phone’s GPS and Google maps to overlay the game into your environment. Therefore, players can interact with Pokémon in the real world! The characters and objects are integrated into our environment, enveloping users into the game even further. After catching my first Pokémon, I have to say… I was oddly interested in getting out of my house to see where the rest of these characters could be found. Fast-forward several weeks later, I can tell you that I’ve found some definite good and bad things associated with this new cultural phenomenon. Good news or bad news first? Let’s start with the good.
One of the biggest pros of the game are the physical benefits. The game requires users to get out and get moving! The only way for a user to catch more Pokémon is to explore your surroundings. Pokémon are scattered almost everywhere, so it’s important to walk around and search for them. This provides a great reason for consumers to get some exercise. The game tells you what’s nearby and approximately how far away you are from it, giving you the motivation to keep on moving! Although it may be an unconventional way to get exercise, I approve!
Secondly, it is helping bring potential customers into businesses and promoting traffic to them! Businesses can add a new line in their budgets; it may be worthwhile for businesses to invest a small budget into “Lure Modules” to drive traffic to their businesses. Lure Modules draw Pokémon to locations of your choice for a small fee! These lures have shown to be successful for small retail stores and local businesses. The general consensus is that companies can also maximize profit by minimizing the distance between their locations and PokeStops and Pokémon Gyms. As mentioned by Walter Chen in his Inc.com column, “Pokémon Go is Driving Insane Amounts of Sales…”
Lastly, the game has created a sense of community among players. It has provided a great sense of motivation for users to get involved, because they can play and interact with other players. They can also align with team Valor, Mystic or Instinct after reaching a certain level. This keeps players engaged by allowing them to meet new friends.
The game also has some noteworthy cons. While the game has caused an increase in social activity it has also indirectly caused injury to some players and by-standers. Just when you think it’s hard enough to get people on the road to not text and drive… you have to worry about people playing Pokémon Go while driving. Because of this, there have been accidents involving individuals running into objects and hitting others. The result of this has been severe traffic jams and even hospitalizations.
In addition to causing physical harm it is also causing mental and emotional harm. PokeStops are where players can collect free items such as Poke Balls. Many PokeStops are being placed at historical landmarks, statues and public buildings. Some may be placed in locations that many deem as inappropriate; such as the Holocaust Museum in D.C. and Poland’s Auschwitz Memorial. This is leading many PokeStop locations to be seen as disrespectful and inappropriate. Unfortunately, it may also lead you to dangerous spots, which can put you into harms way. Some other PokeStops are located in unsafe parts of town and some criminals are using this to their advantage.
I believe that Pokémon Go is a great example of being at the right place, at the right time. The game offers an escape from the day-to-day barrage of negative news emanating from as many outlets as one could imagine. It is proving to be a great marketing tool, benefits users’ physical health and provides a true sense of camaraderie. If users play the game responsibly and respectfully, I personally don't have any grievances against the game. As for me, I am perfectly satisfied with my level 3 ranking for now.