If you’re like millions of other Americans, you’ve been going crazy playing the recently released Pokemon Go. If you’re also smart, you chose Team Valor.
The app, which needs no explanation, is already boasting 15 million downloads, topping the App Store charts. It may seem that everyone is playing the game, but the game has only been officially released in eight countries.
Like many Americans, I grew up playing Pokemon. When I started hearing speculation about two years ago, I had high hopes for the concept of Pokemon Go — a game that lets you take your Pokemon dreams into the real world. Every child who grew up playing Pokemon or watching the popular TV show has long waited for the concept of Pokemon Go to become a reality; however, nothing could have prepared us for what was to come.
First off, the game isn’t even that great. You can now catch Pokemon the same way you find dates on Tinder. Swiping the screen has never been so rewarding. You can’t battle your friends; actually, there’s almost no player-to-player interaction within the game. The servers crash at the worst possible moments. The GPS-based Pokemon tracking system broke after only a week of use.
It seems the only good thing about the game is the anticipation of finally being able to play. While the game is trending on social media for its few positive aspects, most news outlets have been covering a different side of the story. Pokemon Go players are causing chaos all throughout the country.
Let’s start with the minor offenses before discussing the heavier matters. Players are disrespecting the world around
them. The creators of the game wanted players to begin interacting with nature. As a response, millions of users now go on long Pokemon hunts without even looking up from their phones. Sure, Pokemon gets people up from their couches, but the app’s high usage means people are now devoting an even larger part of their day to their mobile phones, only adding to the American average of 4.7 hours of
daily smartphone usage. Additionally, some landmarks are being disgraced by the game. Arlington National Cemetery, the resting place of 150 years worth of American soldiers, has filed complaints about players disrespecting the graves while catching Pokemon. The D.C. Holocaust Museum is pleading with Nintendo to have the location removed from the game after a group of players entered the museum searching for Pokemon. The site of the Auschwitz concentration camp has also attracted many players to disrupt the reflective nature of the landmark, though the game has not even been released in Poland, or Europe for that matter. (Many Europeans have found back doors to download and play the game anyway. I actually did so myself when the game released in Australia before America.)
Another problem created by the players has been their ignorance of the world around them. Police across the country have been responding to calls of trespassing and attempted burglary as Pokemon “trainers” chase Pokemon through private properties.
While trespassing may only be a minor incident, car accidents have become a major issue. Unsuspecting players have become so engrossed in the game that they sometimes forget to look up before crossing streets, causing multiple stories where a pedestrian has walked into the middle of traffic. When it’s not pedestrians, it’s the drivers. Story after story has come out about drivers catching Pokemon on the road, only to end up involved in an accident.
You may have heard or seen the story of a major highway pile-up caused by one man’s determination to catch Pikachu. While this story has been discredited as false, I see it as a prediction. As more and more people download the game, which now ranks No. 1 in daily usage among all apps, more and more players will continue to do reckless things.
Police stations across the U.S., including our own UPD, have made efforts to warn citizens of the dangers of playing the game while driving. Even the loading screen for the game advises players, “Remember to be alert at all times. Stay aware of your surroundings.”
Pokemon Go is a great concept. There’s no denying that. However, the players have twisted the purpose of the game. We must remember that it is still only a game, and that no game is more valuable than our own life or the lives of those around us.
So, while you train to become the very best at Pokemon, don’t forget to heed the game’s warnings and enjoy nature along the way.