The Pokemon craze: a view from the fence

It is difficult to describe how fast Pokemon Go caught on other than it spreading like wild fire. In the roughly five weeks since Pokemon Go was released it has caught the worlds attention in a way no other social media app, game or other feature has managed to. Nations all over the world have caught the craze. The game has brought $160 million in revenue and rewritten the records set by games such as Candy Crush.

Overall Pokemon Go seems to have had some surprising benefits, including major surges in people visiting monuments, religious sites and surprisingly even benefits for law enforcement trying to engage with communities. But with Pokemon Go’s success are coming a number of growing problems. People with disabilities have found that the game is difficult to play because of the physical mobility required to walk places, and groups representing disabled people have sent lists of suggested modifications to the makers in an effort to enable more people to play it.

In some parts of the world Pokemon has become a problem with players being accused of showing disrespect at monuments. In the latest news the Peace Park at Hiroshima surrounding the building above which the first nuclear bomb used in war exploded has been made off limits to Pokemon players. Around key social infrastructure such as fire stations and railway stations bans have been implemented for safety and practical reasons. Numerous countries and institutions have banned or limited its use for varying reasons. In the case of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the game is simply not available in the country because the religious authorities consider it to be a security threat and Saudi Arabia has issued a fatwa against it on the grounds of gambling (despite almost certainly having never played it).

Pokemon’s success has caused other problems as well. So many people are playing it that there has been an inevitable spike in road accidents caused by inattention as some fail to get their priorities right and focus on driving their vehicles instead of playing the game.

I personally do not see the point of Pokemon. However, convinced as I am that it will just be a passing phase I am happy to let it go as long as it does not unduly hinder what I do. Phases come and go all the time in this age of social media and my guess is Pokemon will start to wane in the next couple of months as the nobility of it wears off.


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