Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about Pokémon GO by now.
Pokémon GO is an augmented reality game that brings all the beloved Pokémon creatures from the original series to life. The objective of the game is to catch all of the available Pokémon in the game—summarized by the series’ well known catchphrase: “gotta catch ’em all”. The Pokémon that can be found depend on the location—in fact, some Pokémon are exclusive to certain regions. In order to “catch ’em all”, the player must interact with their environment in real-time.
Pokémon GO is a widely popular game, but not all users seem to have played the original Nintendo games.
Meenah Saravanabavan, a third-year statistics major, said, “This is my first experience with Pokémon ever. I’ve never played any of the originals—I just picked [Pokémon Go] up because it seemed fun.”
Others have watched the Pokémon cartoon series and played the original games during their childhood, which drew them towards the app.
Navdeep Bhatoa, a second-year mathematical science major, stated, “I felt like my childhood was back. [I] grew up watching and playing [Pokémon Go], and then completely forgot about it—and then suddenly there’s this augmented reality game that brings it all back! It’s awesome!”
Here at UTM, you’ll notice that there are various PokéStops that are predominantly buildings on campus. Navigating from PokéStop to PokéStop is easy, considering most of the stops are close to each other.
“I usually keep it on when I’m in the library […] [The] PokéStop [resets] every few minutes,” said Saravanabavan. While every building on campus has its own PokéStop, the library is a major hot spot for most players.
This unique augmented reality game has had a lot of positive feedback since its release. Unlike other mobile games, Pokémon GO requires its players to engage with their environment, creating new face-to-face interactions with other players. However, there are pros and cons to everything, and the same rule applies to Pokémon GO.
When asked why she likes Pokémon GO, Saravanabavan said, “I think it’s easy and fun to play. You can play it with other people, and it makes you explore parks and cities that you usually wouldn’t explore. My initial complaint was that it used data, but it really doesn’t take up much data at all. I only get 200 MB of data a month, and can play quite a bit with that data.”
There are PokéStops in the game that are usually monuments or landmarks, where the players can collect items such as Pokéballs, which are required in order to catch the Pokémon. Recently, a few PokéStops in the game have received some controversy. According to various articles (such as Mashable’s “10 very inappropriate locations for PokéStops in Pokémon Go”), there are PokéStops drawing players to cemeteries, while other players are trespassing private property as they track a Pokémon down.
These sorts of incidents have become normal to the game’s players. But can these incidents create further complications for both the players and the surrounding community?
Recently, there seems to be a decrease in the number of daily users. In fact, according to a recent Bloomberg article (“Pokémon GO usage has peaked”), data collected from various sources suggests that there is an increasing downward trend in the usage and time spent on the app, and in the number of daily Pokémon GO users.
Whether Pokémon GO is just a passing fad remains to be seen. What is important to remember is that whether you are an avid Pokémon trainer or just trying out the game for fun, remember to keep an eye on your surroundings—and your data plan.