Murder. Robbery. Trespassing. Pedophiles. Spying. Infidelity. Identity theft. The wildly successful Pokémon franchise has been around for more 20 years, but in less than two weeks, these are all things that have been associated with the latest location-based virtual-reality game, Pokémon GO.
Businesses, museums, parks and virtually every place wanting to boost foot traffic are hopping on the bandwagon, advertising specials, incentives and discounts specifically for Pokémon hunters. I’ve even seen a university already advertising use of the game as an incentive to get potential students to register for summer courses on their campus.
My cousin, who lives in Missouri, relayed what appeared to be a zombie apocalypse in his downtown area yesterday. He watched dozens of people holding their cellphones up to their face and carelessly wandering through the neighborhood. Which led me to think…I don’t want Poke-hunters wandering into my backyard. This has already become a problem, with reports of widespread trespassing and of people putting themselves into dangerous situations to capture one of these virtual Pokémon.
I don’t know if this is true, but I read that the Army is developing a plan to use the application to teach soldiers how to track and navigate. Seriously? I cannot relate. That, to me as an old-school veteran, is millennial-thinking and a ridiculous skill in a soldier’s war training toolbox.
I’ve heard some parents and some experts cite exercise as the reason for playing the game. It’s not just for kids. One friend told she logged five miles on her pedometer while tracking Pokémon. And another friend told me, “I don’t co-sign with letting video games babysit my kid, but he is off the couch.”
Some socially responsible groups are using it to their advantage, pitching… “Hey, while you’re out there walking around, take a bag with you and pick up some garbage” and other creative ways to get practical things accomplished.
Niantic, the game developer, has also confirmed that it has access to the gamer’s Google account through the app usage including emails, personal information, etc., but that it does not plan to actually use any of it. If you believe that, I’d like to further my case for natural selection.